Ramadan

Ramadan started last night. This is a special month-long holiday. While you do not need to celebrate it (I don’t), I believe you should be mindful, especially if you know someone who may celebrate.

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is one of the most holy months of the Islamic calendar year. It is a Muslim religious observance, believed to be the time when the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by Allah.

There are Five Pillars of Islam, and fasting through Ramadan is one of them. With the exception of illnesses, diabetes, pregnancy, and other health issues, it’s an obligatory thing. Muslims are expected to fast from all food and drink, water too, from dawn until sunset every day during the month. And because we are entering summer months, they’ll be fasting, approximately, from 5 am to 9 pm–16 hours! At night, the fast is broken with a communal meal.

During Ramadan, Muslims are also expected to pray, read the Quran daily, and give to charities. They are meant to abstain from foul speech, gossip, smoking, engaging in sexual relations, and fighting. The fasting, as well as the praying, reading, doing good, etc., is meant to promote self-discipline and bring you closer to God.

Now, why do I care? What does it matter if I do not celebrate it?

When I was in the seventh grade (Year 8, for my UK friends), I had a friend who came from Pakistan. She and her family were faithful Muslims. One day, I went back to the classroom in need of something when I saw a familiar hijab in the room. My friend was reading, alone and without food. I offered lunch, but she was fasting. This is when I first learned about Ramadan. I didn’t understand at first; it took a hot minute for me to grasp what it was. And at the end, she invited me to Eid Al-Fatur, their celebration the day after the last day of Ramadan.

Even if you don’t celebrate/aren’t part of their religion, be respectful. Don’t belittle their efforts or mock their tradition. And if you see/know Muslims using this time (until 4 June, I think?), don’t force food or water in their direction. You don’t need to make fun of a religious time just because you don’t understand it.

Have a blessed Ramadan.

Hugs

Alexandra

Taxes…

The last day of taxes here in the States are Monday, 15 April.

But why do we have tax season? Why do we get tax refunds? (Note: I do not mind getting money, but I want to know why I have to worry about that kind of thing every end of winter/beginning of spring)

Apparently, you get a tax refund when you overpay in taxes.

Your job withholds money from your paycheck for the government to determine what your actual tax amount is. And every year, they return what you ‘gave’ more of.

Because I, in all honesty, don’t know shit about taxes (hence why I make this post), I did a bit of Googling as to why this all happens in the first place. I found one guy explain the actual refund/the overpaying part:

“You and your buddy go out for drinks every so often. To make things easier you both kick in $200/mo into a joint checking account and pay for everything out of that account. At the end of the year, you need to settle up and zero the account. You go through each receipt and determine who was responsible for each cost, and pay out the appropriate remainder. With the account at $0, you both start kicking $200/mo into the account again.” (link)

But why do we actually overpay? Well, I found two different answers, both surprisingly from the same article.

1. It’s so we can avoid UNDERpaying taxes and have to owe money to the IRS in April

And 2. We are essentially loaning the government money for free, which they ‘return’ every end of winter/beginning of spring. (click for the article)

So, that’s what I found. I don’t know how much is true and how much could be nonsense. Either way, I have a headache just from trying to figure out why this happens.

Make sure you file your taxes. Deadline 15 April. That’s it.

Hugs (and aspirin)

Alexandra

The Last Empress of Russia

Pearl Diadem () Empress Alexandra Feodorovna 2-2One of the things I constantly preach is about learning new things. And my blog has been mostly about learning about self, which is super important as well so no regrets! I thought it was time to teach you guys something you may not know about.

Lately I’ve been reminded of my work and research that was put into learning about the last Empress of Russia, Alexandra Feodorovna (known as Alix). She was painted with unfavorable light due to the family’s relationship with Rasputin and the fall of Imperial Russia. Here’s some stuff you may not know about her.

 

-her grandmother was Queen Victoria of Great Britain

-she had a firm and independent stance on marriage, which was rare/unheard of in the late 1800s. it was considered unfeminine or unnatural

-French was the language of the Russian court, and when she would learn/practice the courtiers would laugh at her efforts and criticize her

-she had an excessive focus, borderline unhealthy fixation, on how her home was run

-under Alix’s patronage, 85 hospitals around Petrograd were operating within the first four months of WWI. She and her older daughter even trained to become surgical nurses

-she disliked crowds, and always sought isolation and quiet

-obsessive about having something to do, and without a job she felt useless

-strongly empathetic, to the point where she could be counted on to get up out of her sickbed in response to others’ needs

-loved her family. This is a bit odd to add, however she was seen as ‘wasting her time’ when she was looking after her daughters whose ‘existence were of no use to the Russian empire’. She adored all her kids

-as well, she and her husband had a very loving relationship

-and now, allow me to tell you my favorite story I found, told by Princess Obolensky. While on one of their ships, they struck a rock which left a hole in the hull and it was sinking. Alix saw to the safety of the family and staff, mobilized everyone’s efforts, and managed to salvage the valuables from the cabins. Forgetting herself (she was the last woman to leave the ship) and caught up entirely in the peril of the moment, Alix had ‘acted as one born to command’

 

And that’s all I’ll give you now. She was a fascinating woman, and I was actually thrilled to learn more about her, even if she was a tragic character of history.

Whatever interests you, learn of it.

Hugs

Alexandra