My name is Fatima Muhammad. I am in my second year here at Kean University in the English Writing Studies program. I am also a teacher at a charter high school. I am teaching Global Literature and 21st Century Careers to 9th, 11th and 12th graders.
My thesis goal:
When visiting the public library and book stores, and searching various websites, I am unsuccessful at finding children’s books that tell stories of Muslim inventors. My goal is to produce a series of children’s books that share this knowledge. My plan is to research Muslim inventors and highlight their skills and products in a manner that engages the interest of children.
I started first story with the invention of a tenth century A.D. Muslim doctor that was one of the first in history, to perform cataract surgery. He also invented a surgical tool that was use to perform the surgery. I used his invention to build a relatable story narrated by a young boy telling the story of how his grandmother has to have cataract surgery.
At this point, I know that I want this project to be a series. However, I’m not sure of the number of stories that I want to include in the series.
My dear classmates, I would to say, “Thank you!!!.” The Writer’s Retreat was an amazing experience!!! During this retreat I transformed my dream into a reality. And you all played a major role in my life that enabled me to achieve this success. You all made me feel that I was in a safe space and that I could share my thoughts and goals with you and I could trust your sincerity. I feel like I have accomplished so much. Words cannot express the gratitude that I have for the support that I received for you all.
For sure, we are a special group. Each of us is talented in our own ways. I admire the fact that even though we all have a different theme for our individual project, we were able to visualize each other’s goals and then offer suggestions and provide support. That’s special! In addition, we shared many laughs and I do believe we have established foundations for lifetime friendships.
Lastly, and I know you all will agree with me, that Dr. Zamora did excellent job at structuring an online Writer’s Retreat! It was a well-developed and beneficial opportunity of growth for all of us. Again, thank you all for being so supportive. I enjoyed every moment of our Writer’s Retreat. Monday morning is not going to feel the same…
Being of a seasoned age I have witnesses many societal changes, from black and white TVs to 5G. But never, have I experienced or witnessed anything like this phenomenon. COVIN-19 hit society unexpectedly. On a Friday I was working at work and then instantaneously, the next Monday I was working from home. To be very honest, I was hoping to return to work and resume our “normal” routines. However, that did not happen. Society had to develop a “new norm.” Personally, I had to learn how to execute remote teaching. I had to develop lesson plans that would keep my students engaged and responsible. Adapting this way of teaching was stressful. However, did it! I was able to develop balance.
In addition, I had to learn how to become a remote student. I prefer the physical in class experience. I like the interaction and collaboration with my professors and classmates. The first two weeks of this unexpected transition were extremely difficult. However, I learned that I can handle much more that I thought I could. I successfully made the transition from in class teacher to remote teacher and from a in class student to a remote learner. Also, one of my successes was taking on the challenge of increasing my use of Google.
I have always loved nature. And this quarantine has increased my love and appreciation for nature. There have been many changes that took place during this quarantine. But there is one thing that has not changed and that is spring; which is my most favorite season. Trees, plants and flowers are still growing and the color in the flowers and plants seem to be more vibrant. I enjoy visits to the park. One day I was sitting in the park. It was windy day, with a welcomed breeze. On that day the leaves in the trees caught my attention. I watched how the different leaves playfully sway from the right to left and then left to right. I wondered does this breeze feel as good to the leaves as it does to me. I wondered are the leaves in motion due to the force of the wind. Or are the leaves grateful for the breeze while they play together. Watching the leaves play is my new observation.
Observing the leaves at play in the trees made me think about the beauty in society. COVIN – 19 came from nowhere, side swiped and threw us all off balance for a short while. The world is changing, and some of the changes are difficult to accept and to handle. However, just like there is a beauty in the play of the leaves, there is a beauty in the intertwining of society as we develop, “new norms.
This is a most essential question. For me, what brings me joy is when I have time to write poetry and listen to jazz. At this stage of my life I definitely enjoy the simpler things of life. And it means a lot to me when I can set aside time for myself. I’m usually always occupied with some type of chore or event that will occupy my entire day or the majority of the day. Very often in my mind I have scheduled time for me but in reality it doesn’t happen. This is why I cherish the moments that I have that I can write and listen to jazz. In the recent years I have become more dedicated to my writing. Now I set production goals for myself. Prior to that I wrote whenever a creative moment popped up. I’m at a point in my life that I pray I’m able to fulfill my goal and publish some books. This is why having time to write is a joy, because I’m doing what I love and fulfilling my goals.
My love for jazz started around the same time that I discovered poetry, when I was in the seventh grade. My seventh grade teacher was really cool. He purchased a recorded player, headphones and jazz albums for our class. One of our rewards for good grades was, he gave us time to listen to jazz. We would choose an album, put the headphone on and go on a musical journey. Just like then, listening to jazz stills soothes me and it ignites my creativity. Listening to jazz takes me to another place. I can literally be in a noisy place with a lot of activity going on, for instance, an outside jazz concert. It’s like the music builds a force around me that locks me into my own world. And the music and the noise actually inspire me. Having time to write poetry while listening to jazz is a simple pleasure of life that brings me joy.
I received a most necessary and most precious gift, the gift of, “expressive writing.” Expressive writing is different from writing that is restricted to literary techniques, style and rules. This type of writing is liberating. It enables me to tell my story, from my perspective. I tend to write in my safe zone. I write about love and situations that always have triumphant endings. Which is acceptable; however in reality all situations are not triumphant. And those situations need to be expressed as well. Also, I write on the surface. I don’t dig deep into my or anyone else’s inner space. My poetry does touch emotions, and it will make you reflect. However, I usually stay in the safe zone so that I am not crossing any borders.
Never-the-less, I must say that I am blessed. I have a good life and I really don’t have any horror stories. And I do not take that for granted; I am very grateful. But in reality, no matter how good my life is, there were and still are some tests, trials, and tribulations that cause me to struggle. And with each one of my stories there is interaction with others. So I wonder, “How would they handle it if I opened my Pandora’s box? Would they still be proud of me if I wrote from below the surface? How would they feel if I dig deep into that inner space and write my perspective?
For example, whenever, I begin to write my story, a story that tells of a difficult time in my life, I usually hold back with being as open as I could, or as I should be. I’m always concerned about the other person or people that are part of my story. I always put my concern for them in front of my need to be open. I wonder, “Do they want their life shared with the public. How would it affect our relationship if I include them in my story? Would they understand my reason for writing? These questions have always burdened me.
I admire the way my classmates have opened their minds and hearts and share their life experiences without inhibitions. By reading and listening to their writings I have learned that it is acceptable to write my story. And if I must include another person in my story, then I must always have boundaries and be respectful. I learned that telling my story is essential to my well-being. And that should not be harmful to anyone else, as long as I am respectful, which is what I have observed from my classmates. Expressive writing is therapeutic and empowering. I write because it is a gift. However, I also write for a purpose. And that purpose is to uplift myself and my readers. And to sincerely uplift a person, one must be open. Writing this blog is a really big step for me. The gift of expressive writing has brought me to this place of openness.
I am a garden in bloom with a plethora of stories to share through expressive writing!
Fatima Muhammad June 23, 2020Summer Writer’s Retreat Blog #2
A Glimpse of Me
I couldn’t think of any one thing that represents me. I’m attached to so many people and so many things. I must admit that is was a bit difficult to choose something that represented only me. The highlight of my life is being a mother and grandmother. However, there has to be some of my life that is my own. After careful thought I decided to share these books that mean so much to me. I feel like these books represent my life story. I’ve read some of these books cover to cover and others I’ve skimmed through or use them for reference.
The Holy Quran This is my religious and spiritual guidance – my way of life.
The Life of Muhammad This is my religious and spiritual guidance – my way of life.
African Muslims in Antebellum America This is African, Muslim and American History.
W.E.B. Du Bois, Speeches and Addresses 1890 – 1919 I love the way he expressed his studies, thoughts and observations.
Fascinating Womanhood This is relationship advice.
Fit For Life This is nutrition advice.
All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten This shares wisdom.
Black Like Me Sociology. I read this novel when I was in the 8th grade. The story stuck with me.
Educated This provides life lessons of family loyalty, and self-identity.
Invisible Man I read that this novel is written like a ballad. That caught my interest. I’m just beginning to read it.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X This is a fascinating story of life.
ISpeak, So You Can Speak Again The Life of Zora Neale Hurston
The Me Nobody KnowChildren’s Voices from the Ghetto This is the first poetry book that I read when I was in the 7th grade. I got this copy at a book club. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It brought back some precious memories.
The Holy Quran keeps me humble and balance and grounded and hungry for knowledge so I search for the stories that tell me about the The Life of MuhammadThe African Muslims in Antebellum America stories untold, history ignore, life lessons not learned the stories that are Black Like MeISpeak, So I Can Speak Again because sometimes I feel like The Me Nobody Knows the Invisible Man, not I I be The Autobiography of Malcolm X Now listen in the wind I hear the 1890 – 1919 Speeches and Addresses of W.E.B. Du Bois, and I become Educated and Fit For Life I be she All She Really Needed To Know She Learned In Kindergarten, For she is the definition of Fascinating WomanhoodBy Fatima Muhammad