Find Your Tribe

As a person I am passionate and I am very highly driven. Most of the time I follow my heart and my emotions, but I am fully aware of the situations where I need to use logic more than emotions. I make my choices consciously and I embrace who I am, because I simply won’t have myself be any other way.

I dream big and I take risks and I refuse to be scared or to back down. I stand up for myself and I stand up for others, I speak my mind. I am vocal, I am assertive and I am comfortable in my own skin.

I know that I am different, simply because we all are. We are all unique and we are all different in our own ways. I understand that one size doesn’t fit all, and I believe that if I was created and came to be then I have a purpose.

I appreciate my talents, and I praise my strengths, I am aware of my flaws and I embrace my imperfections. I know that my flaws make me human, and that in the imperfections lie beauty and balance. I am real, I am true, and I am me.

Along the path I will evolve and I will develop, I will grow and I will change. Along the path of life my desires, my aspirations, my likes, my dislikes, my passions and my tolerances will vary; change is the only constant in this world, so why would I be an exception to the case.

I believe that how others treat me is on them, and that I deserve to be respected, to be loved, to be safe, to be appreciated and to be acknowledged. I have the right to exist within society and no one has the right to violate me. I am a woman, but that is just my gender, it doesn’t rank me in society as superior or inferior. It is simply a trait assigned to me like my hair color, my eyes, or my age. My gender is simply that, a gender.

I am not strong for a woman, or assertive for a woman, or smart for a woman or independent for a woman; I am just strong, assertive, smart and independent, that’s it.

The one thing that I am also fully aware of is that I haven’t always felt that way. This is a process that took three decades of mental and emotional evolution. It is a process that entailed me accepting so much that I should not have accepted, before I grew into my own skin.

Growing up as a female is hard work, I’m not victimizing us, but this is the reality of it all. I used to think that it’s just part of being an Arab female, but let me tell you ladies and gents, no matter where we are; the struggle is real, the fight is real, and the statistics don’t lie.

As women we are taught that our gender plays a much bigger classification role than it should. We are made to apologize for things that men don’t, we are placed in molds and boxes of society norms, cultural expectations and gender appropriations.

Out intelligence is undervalued, and we are taught to expect a different treatment, people constantly believe that they need to simplify things for us, and that there is this weird and rather unrealistic notion that we cannot handle tough situations. We are viewed as irrational and weak; sometimes told we are too “emotional” and that we need to “toughen up” like being in touch with our emotions is weakness, or that our physical appearance structure automatically places us in the weaker gender column.

Yet us women, are the same ones to blame for men’s inability to use their words and process their emotions when they abuse and beat us. The same women are the ones to blame when men feel insecure when their wives/partners make more than them at work or outperform them in sports and life. The same women are the ones to blame when men are incapable of handling their hormones and their emotions and sexually abuse women.

We as women are blamed for other’s insecurities, other’s incapability and other’s inability to express and handle emotions. Yet, we are the weaker sex and the inferior sex.

Somewhere along the journey of life we are told not to be too vocal, not to be too assertive and not to dream big. We are sold the notion that the biggest accomplishment of our lives is to be wives, and to be mothers and that as women on our own, we are not enough, that we need to be associated to someone, as their daughter, as their wife, as their partner or as their mother to be of value. The labeling was so essential to our upbringing at certain stages.

The first time I was violated, I was a child. I was a little girl in a supermarket aisle, this older man, as old as my father kept brushing up against me. First time I thought it was by mistake, but he kept doing it, and he whispered something about how I shouldn’t be wearing shorts. I was seven, I was a child, I was told that the reason this creepy person was violating me was my fault, because I was in shorts. Every time I was groped, violated or inappropriately touched, I didn’t talk about it, because I blamed myself. I would first go through a checklist of what was I wearing, what was it that provoked him, what did I say, how did I act. I always put myself at fault. We all know, that this is one small part of what happens out there in the world, I don’t need to tell you how horrifying the stories are or how painful it is to read about women being forced to marry their rapists, and even bare their children!

I remember when I started my career, my ex was still in university, it really wasn’t his thing and he just wasn’t graduating. Year after year, I started making career advancements, I started making more money, and I started investing more in my career because I loved the self-fulfillment and the growth, and because I was good at what I was doing.

It was during that period that I suffered most of the mental and emotional abuse out of him, it was the constant putting me down at every chance, the constant feeling of guilt because I was “working too hard”. Before I knew it, I was apologizing for my achievements, I was apologizing for my work, I was afraid to be vocal about my promotions and my advancements. I always felt guilty for developing my own career and my own life. The abuse progressed, and along the lines I always justified it, because I always felt that I was in the wrong doing for wanting a career, for wanting success, for outshining him. The height of it all came when I had to choose between him, and my career, two different choices that had nothing in conflict with one another, but to him, I couldn’t have both. If I wanted to be with him, then I needed to be a stay at home wife, I needed to forgo my dreams, my hopes and my aspirations, he said that I shouldn’t want anything more than to be his wife and the mother of his children. He believed that my association to him should be my biggest dream. Years later when we met and we spoke, he still believed that I was in the wrong for choosing my career, he believed that his abuse was justified and that I brought it upon myself.

I am not the first or the last person in the series of women who have been downplayed, degraded, or abused; and I’m also not the first or the last of a series of women who are taking matters in their own hands now and refusing to conform to the boxes and molds we are placed in. We are the women that are fighting to break through the glass ceilings.

To all the women out there that are fighting for their place in society, their rightful place, thank you. Thank you for being part of my tribe, thank you for inspiring women to keep fighting and for changing the current situations so future generations have it better than we do.

Thank you to the single mothers who decided that they can do it on their own, to the mothers who decided to embark on motherhood. Thank you to the ladies that taught us that it is ok to be single, and that it is also ok to be divorced or separated and to stand up for what you want. To all the women out there choosing careers, or motherhood, thank you for making a choice. It’s not what you choose that concerns me, as long as that choice is yours. To the mama’s raising their daughters to take no shit from people, I am happy to have you in my circle. To the female entrepreneurs and teachers, you are inspirations and guides that have touched more lives than you know.

To all the women who walked away from abuse, who put themselves first, and who chose their wellbeing over everyone else, thank you for setting an example, thank you for re-calibrating the bar. To the women who embarked on careers that were deemed “men’s jobs” thank you for breaking the stereo type. To everyone who pursued what is rightfully theirs, and was never afraid to dream big, I admire you.

They say find your tribe and walk with it, and when I reflect on the women in my life, the circle of women I associate myself with, I am proud to walk amongst them. A lot of the women I have worked with, I have trained with or I am friends with have proven day in and day out to be strong, to be independent and to be someone who has shaped me into who I am today. To all these women, thank you, thank you for walking along this path and not giving up, for getting back up and fighting every time you got knocked down. Thank you for all the lives you have touched and all the lives you continue to inspire.

Happy women’s day ladies! Happy everyday to you, and may you continue to grow, to prosper and to be successful till your last breath.

Once the Dust Settled

Towards the end of last year I started to become restless. I started noticing so many little details about people, about life, about situations that I hadn’t been noticing for a while. I started cleaning and de-cluttering my life. In the physical and metaphorical sense. I went through a massive cleaning of my room, followed by my wardrobe, my shoe closet and even my precious books. I started donating, gifting, and throwing things away and making room.

On a personal aspect, I did the same with habits, people and situations I found myself in. I started digging deeper into relationships I have (friendships, work relationships, romance, family, etc.) and I went through a tidying up process.

I tried to make amends with these that needed amends, voiced my concerns to rectify situations that didn’t serve me and didn’t make me happy, stepped away from things that were not my business, but I was somehow entangled in, pursued new relationships I wanted, and ended ones that were no longer serving me.

Initially I thought this was one of my “high” moods, one of my manic burst of energy and that they will whither in no time. 

A while later realized, thankfully, that it has not withered, that it was not just an episode, and that suddenly I’m more aware of all the things around me, and I want more, I have an appetite for life, I want more out of my day, out of my hours, out of my friends. I want to receive more and I want to invest more, in worthier causes and to use my time better.

I speak less, and I listen more. I suddenly have the ability, the time and the tolerance to be there for my friends. To listen to what they have to say, to be there for them more, to make things about them again when they need me. I went back to exploring my body’s limitations and abilities in sports, I’m trying out new fitness classes, I’m reading more and I’m investing more time, on myself before anyone else.I stopped occupying myself with what others do, or don’t do. I’m adopting the mantra of live and let live and, all the sudden, it’s like all this free space, extra time and energy found its way inwards.

The unrest I felt in the beginning didn’t  make a lot of sense, all these things I didn’t notice in the past couple of years, all these details that didn’t bother me, all these situations that I was fine with, and suddenly I wasn’t, confused me. What changed, what happened, why the sudden unrest.

I worried that I was being ungrateful, that I was being greedy by wanting more, and craving more, that I wanted so much to change, and I was not at peace with what I currently have all the sudden. Was I being bratty, entitled, ungrateful?I mulled that idea a couple of times, a lot of people said “just be happy with what you have” you’re in a good place. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not upset at what I have, I’m not sad, I’m restless, I want more, I want so so so much more and somehow, I can’t scratch that itch away anymore.

After a while, it dawned on me, I finally started to understand what happened. It took a lot of quiet mornings on my own, meditations, journaling, reflecting and really thinking for me to understand. I felt familiar again, I felt like me, the old me, the me, before the big grief (my dad’s passing); I was back to being the same me that wanted more from life than the things that didn’t serve her back in 2014; the same me, that uprooted her life,and went on one of the greatest adventures of her life.

I was back!

I came to term with the realities I couldn’t change, and as difficult as it was, I befriended my grief. I realized that I will carry it in my mind and my heart for as long as I live, but I also realized that we can co-exist. It’s sort of like signing a peace treaty and a co-habitation agreement.

It sits quietly and gently in a small corner in the back of my mind and heart. I let it be, and it doesn’t try to take over anymore. I came to understand that sometimes, the grief will come out to wander and take a small stroll, and I let it, I no longer fight it. It’s sort of this little miniature character that I personalized so that I can be able to befriend and live with, peacefully with minimal interruptions.

The dust settled, it’s as simple as that. Grief is like a sandstorm, it fills up all the spaces of the mind, it makes it cloudy and you’re unable to see clearly. The empty spaces are filled with sand particles, they don’t serve any purpose, they’re heavy and they simply take up space.

For three years, I was stuck inside the sandstorm, I couldn’t see clearly, I couldn’t breathe clearly, I was just surviving and not living. These are two distinctively different situations.

When surviving you make do with whatever comes your way, even if not ideal, even if not what you want, but it serves the purpose somehow, you settle, you accept, you don’t look for more. When surviving and navigating without a clear vision, you are afraid to take risks, to step outside the familiar paths, you go with the norm, because it’s safe, it’s secure and it won’t throw you off a ledge.

The truth is, I never believed that the “norm” existed. I don’t believe in chartered paths, and following in the footsteps of those before us (if you do, good for you, I’m not here to challenge your ideology; live and let live).

I always believed that life was a whirlwind of activities, adventures, and that we were put on this earth to celebrate the life we are given, and to celebrate what the soul, body and mind can do. I believe that so many places were created so beautifully because we were meant to explore them, to marvel at their beauty. I believe that I am a nomad at heart, meant to explore, to wander, to chase the stardust and yes, I believe in stardust and magical moments.

I stop to appreciate beautiful sunsets and I’m in love with cotton candy skies. I would rather starve than eat a bad meal, I’d walk miles to get to a bookstore I love, or to see a beautiful scene. I’d travel for hours, I’d explore, and yet I would sometimes be at peace with being absolutely still.

I learned that I am a dynamic character, I change and that’s not a bad thing. Some days I feel like following the noise, and exploring busy and bustling places; other days, I want to sit and turn my face towards the sun, read a book, or write, and enjoy the peace, and the inner voices in my head. I’m neither an introvert or an extrovert, I’m simply a mix of both, depending on what my soul and body crave at that moment. We were meant to think, to feel, to crave, to chase, so why confine my life in boxes of norms and should be?

Once the sandstorm of grief ended I understood all this, because I started gently sweeping my brain and my soul.Wiping away the sand and the dust to see things for what they really are, to notice the details, to appreciate the very good, and to work on the very not good. I started freeing up space, removing the unwanted particles that filled me, and I made room for new things to fill them. New adventures, new life, I made room for light within me basically and I feel lighter, I feel at peace.

The tricky part is, I now need to figure out, since the dust has settled, what comes next. How do I want to move, to fill these places, what do I want to let in, what do I want to pursue. It’s a fabulously exciting and scary phase to be honest.

It’s the good type of scary though, the scary that fills you with adrenaline, the scary that gives you crazy ideas to explore areas of your life you never thought of. I’m looking forward to what the next day, week, month or year even, brings. I realized that now that the dust has settled, I am no longer in survival mode, I’m in let’s celebrate the world, and let’s wholeheartedly enjoy life with everything it has to offer.

May you all chase the start dust in your life, find your light and may all your sandstorms settle, and the light find its way within you once more.I look forward to the next phase of my life, and can’t wait to share it with everyone.

Have a beautiful day.

The Greater Freedom-Book Review

Scrolling through social media I saw that Diwan Egypt (one of the most influential and prominent bookstores in Egypt, and a place I proudly worked for) was hosting an event for a book signing of “The Greater Freedom” by Alya Mooro. The title intrigued me and the excerpt they had on the post about how the book discusses the stereotypes facing Middle Eastern Women definitely caught my attention.

So on a Thursday evening, I drove to the iconic Diwan Zamalek, and took a seat amongst the crowd. It was a full house, the place was packed, and the crowd was interesting. So diverse; young females, older ladies, young men and a few older gentlemen were there as well.I went with intrigue, but to be very honest, I didn’t have very high hope that I was going to fall in love with the book. For some reason I went to the book signing thinking it was going to be some “angry feminist book” if that makes any sense. So why did I go? Because curiosity is one of my most prominent character traits ever since I was a child.

Then Alya started reading a small passage from the book and I was instantly hooked. Why? Her writing style, the way she read, it was like hearing my thoughts outloud!! She wrote in the manner I thought. She spoke the same written language as me. I involuntarily smiled as she read, I could tell that I would love the writing style and enjoy it very much, even if I wasn’t so sure about the content (remember this was still the very beginning of the book signing), so I decided, there and then, that I would buy the book.

Alya describes the context of this book as the greater freedom to not be oneself, to step out of the stereotypes and the cultural norms. I’m not gonna get into details about the actual content because I don’t want to ruin the book for you. She believes that this book is relatable to Middle Eastern women living in the western world, or outside what we call “home”. But I disagree with Alya, this book relates to every woman, period.

The struggles, the stereotypes, the realisations the author makes in this short, but irresistible read, are to me universal to all females. It speaks of the truths, the frustrations, the joys, the fears and the journey that is applicable to practically every modern day female.

The book took me by a very pleasant surprise. Mooro discusses the thoughts we are forced to internalise sometimes because of the cultural norms. She discusses all these “norms” we are taught as children, and breaks them down for us, explores them with us, and speaks the reality a lot of us wish to, but are afraid to say it, because we are scared of society judging us.

Females are always taught to be a certain way, since birth, regardless of our ethnicity, social class, education or upbringing. We are taught to be timid, we are taught to be non-sexual (publicly, but a man-pleasing seductive goddess in private), we are taught to be second in drive and ambition to men, we are taught so many “norms” that generations before us believed without thought, accepted with minimal fight and expected us to follow in their footsteps.

Thankfully, our generation is taking a more challenging approach (some of us, that is) to believing these norms. We now learn to question, to fight back, to push back, and we learn, not to settle. Alya in her book, speaks on behalf of most of us that are walking that walk, and it’s universal. She vocalises the thoughts that a lot of females in the Middle East, and other cultures are afraid to speak. She pushes the boundaries for us, covering relationships with partners, with parents, with our home countries, cultures and friends. She explores the consequences of certain thought processes, parenting styles, and personal boxes we confine ourself to because of our thoughts.

I was brought up in a very cosmopolitan environment, I was brought up with what is considered very liberal parents by Egypt’s standards. I was born and raised outside Egypt, and lived a free, independent life as a female. I moved back a few years ago, and I experienced all the things I “should be” according to my culture here. I first hand experienced all the stereotype that other females, thousands of miles away, who have never met me, or met my family or my circle of interaction experience in their parallel worlds. This is why I found this book relatable, this is why I believed that it speaks to more than just the Middle Eastern female mind.

To all the men out there as well, in case you’re wondering if you should read this book, I definitely recommend that you do. This book gives you a small window to see the world through your female friend, girlfriend, sister, wife, partner’s view. It gives you an insight on the world we live in, the struggles we feel, the liberations we’re after, and why some of us won’t settle.

So, thank you Alya for this excellent read, thank you for verbalising a lot of our thoughts to so many masses. Thank you to Diwan for this opportunity and supporting such discussions, authors and progress and bringing it forth to Egypt. Finally, thank you to every female who refused to settle, to fit in a confined mould that she doesn’t feel she belongs in.

I really hope you check out “The Greater Freedom”, and that you enjoy reading it as much as I did. In the meantime, to every person out there: Be inquisitive, be a challenger, be yourself, be free and never settle.

One of my favorite passages from the book

Life is difficult…

Life is difficult. This is the first sentence in the book that has changed my life the most. Gifted to me by my best friend, in the height of my grief and confusion in life, I let this sentence sink in, as I read it over and over and over again.

The fact that life is difficult is something we don’t always acknowledge or we don’t want to acknowledge. We grow up with this notion that we should breeze through life. The feeling of omnipotence we have as toddlers, later on becomes a feeling of entitlement to go through life without facing adversity. That is where our pitfalls come from. We do not acknowledge that life is a journey, a hill, it has curves and bends and ups and downs. It’s not a plateau or a flat line and it most definitely is something we earn, and not something we are entitled to!

I had a rather privileged upbringing; I lived in a beautiful bubble with all my friends, in my school and my world travels and my parents provided for me to the best of their ability. I was lucky with my education, and that my parents could afford such an education. However, what I believe my parents did a great job at, is teaching me that I have to earn these privileges, I have to work for them, and not just the monetary privileges but other privileges they gave me, like their trust, freedom of mobility (for females in the middle east that is a big thing) amongst many others.

I was taught that it is ok to make mistakes, as long as I am transparent about them and admit them, not just to get away from getting in trouble, but to learn how to correct them. I was taught that not every trial will end in success, and sometimes we will fail, we will fall, bruise and break, but how long we stay on the ground is our call, eventually we have to get up, and learn to walk again, because the world goes on, whether we lay in the trenches or get up and fight.

We earn the life we live. Circumstances are dealt to each one of us, we all deal with adversity, with pain, with loss, on different scales and proportionate to our lives; so yes, sometimes life is difficult, but it is never unfair, because we each are dealt a hand that we have a choice on how to play, we are never unlucky, we make the conscious choice of how to react.

I spent three years wallowing in anger, grief, and pain because I believed that I was “unlucky” and mad at God and the world, for dealing me a bad hand, so to say. I forgot that death, since the creation of mankind, was a constant, that parents, despite our belief, do not live forever, and that having my father in my life, with the close relationship I had with him, was a privilege and not a right. A privilege we earn through the way we treat our parents, and the way they treat us, but sooner or later, that comes to an end. I was mad for being “stuck” in Egypt, for being “unappreciated” at work, for my “bad luck” at starting my business because of the economic turbulence that hit as soon as I started.

I spent years so angry, I would scream at God in my parked car for hours, forgetting that these were only circumstances, and I was the one that chose to react with passiveness to each and every one of these situations.

I chose to lie in the trenches, scream, kick and cry without once trying to pick myself up, or see what is going on in the world around me and how I can change my situation or make the best of it.

I forgot that I am merely one person, amongst more than 7 billion people, and that the world will go on even if I choose to put my life on hold and not look beyond my problems. I felt entitled to breeze through life, and at the first bump in the road, I was paralyzed. I got angry, because it was easier, anger is always the easier choice.

I remember, I opened the book (which is called The Road Less Traveled, by M. Scott Peck) and the first line was just there staring at me: Life is Difficult. It was only then that I stopped my temper tantrum and looked at how far I had gotten in life, and how I got to where I was. I realized, that life has always been difficult, but that after every adversity there was always a sweet reward.

My father died, but he died peacefully, without pain or suffering, and one day we will all die. I could either wallow in grief for years, or grieve and be sad for as long as I need, but get up and move on with life. I decided to do something about it. I started reading more about grief, I started educating myself, I sought help, and finally I did all I can, to honor my dad’s memory and he remains the catalyst for all the success in my life.

I was mad at my job, but I realized I was privileged with education, years of experience and a world of opportunities, if I don’t like where I am, I can just leave, and look for another opportunity, the world is endless, Egypt is massive, who said I was stuck? I’ll tell you who, my mind! When I actively sought another job, I found one, I moved, so was I unlucky? No, I was simply passive! Funny enough, my interview was for a bookstore, and they asked me what was the last book I read, I said I’m currently reading The Road Less Traveled, and the CEO said:,” I love the first sentence in the book, Life is Difficult.” I looked at her, and simply smiled.

As for my catering business, I was so mad because it was taking off on a slow start, so I stopped to think why I was feeling so entitled to instant success. Talent was only one small step, along with passion, perseverance and resilience. My own culinary degree came out of a rather difficult situation, the bi-product of a car accident that smashed my foot, and made me decide to switch careers. So why did I forget that the kitchen is blood, sweat and tears, and that running my own business is hard work. I let go of my sense of entitlement, and I took, and still am taking small steps towards my success, talent is one element, the rest is equally as important. If I want success, I have to earn success. I cannot call it quits at the first sign of turbulence, tantrums won’t cut it in the grown up world, I am no longer an omnipotent child, I am a hard working adult, in a competitive world.

Until we die, we have the privilege of making choices, we can go through life as we choose to go through life. It is never a smooth ride, it is never an easy ride, but we are always in control of the steering wheel. We sometimes feel entitled, and feel that we deserve to live easy, and forget that this is not the case. Life is difficult, but life is also good, it is what we make out of it.

Always remember that, you have a choice, you will always have a choice. So as you go through life, be active, be supportive, be conscious of your choices and most of all be appreciative of the good you get in life, because you earned it. Change the negative, take your time to grieve, but don’t wallow forever, and when you fall and bruise, lean on whatever you need to get yourself back up.

Life is difficult, but that is definitely what makes it worth living.

Be You…

How many times have you looked at someone else’s life and compared them to yours, thinking they have it all, and if only you could be like them?

If I had a penny for everytime I did that, I could probably buy one of these beautiful English houses I spent the first day of my vacation thinking all these people who live in it must have it all.

All of us see our lives most of the time as lacking, too plain, too “white”, but what we often fail to see is that white is composed of all colors, it’s a rainbow that we hold within and sometimes forget to see, and what we forget to know is just like paintings we only see people as final results, sometimes without digging deep into their layers, we compare the surface and not the composition and sometimes we feel lacking when in reality none of us are

I remember at around the age of 26 or so, a few of my friends used to say they envy me cuz I had it all, and all I wanted to do was laugh, not in a Haha funny way, but in a sarcastic and slightly bitter way. On the surface I did look like I had it all, but on the inside I was a mess!

That job everyone was saying I made it big in? I was beyond miserable and the stress was eating my alive, I was losing sleep, lived out of a suitcase,stress eating and smoking two packs of cigarettes a day

My engagement and 9 year relationship was falling apart, I cried myself to sleep every single night, I was unloved, treated miserably and subjected to constant emotional abuse.

I was sick, I was lonely, and I was suicidal, and for the first time in my life, I thought of ending my own life.

But never did I speak of any of this, because I’d lose the image of having it all, of being the strong, successful, established person everyone thought I was. The pressure was intense, how could I explain to people why I was miserable, on paper, I had it all, did I not?

I was too proud to let go of anything, and moved on, from bad to worse. I thought if I got a more “prestigious job” with a better pay in the same field, even if I dont like the field, I will feel better. I told myself if I only made it to marriage, all my problems would disappear, that I must keep it together, after all so many people could only dream of what I have. I never stopped to think if this is really what I want, as opposed to what “I should want”

Well it wasn’t, and everytime someone praised me for having it all, I pressured myself to mute the voices in my head, to keep pushing, to keep “having it all”

A year later I got into my car at night, got on the highway, and was going to drive myself straight off of it. I had it all planned, texted my parents I love them, and set out to end what I believed was an unworthy live

I chickened out, because I thought of my parents and how much they love me, and I couldnt do that to them. But I knew I needed help, and went into therapy.

In the begining I was resentful of the idea, too scared to admit I failed, that my picture perfect life was a mess. But my therapist was brilliant, a beautiful woman, who taught me to look at all the colors that make up my life

I let go of my job, and the pursuit of a prestigious job, I got a culinary degree and followed my heart, ended the engagement to the one man I was so determined to marry, because we’ve been together for so long, people just expected me to marry him, or so I thought

I moved, and traveled and followed my feelings. I fail and stumble and sometimes feel like I dont have anything at all. But then I learn to stop and breathe, count my blessings, and if I compare myself to someone, I now know I am only seeing the surface of the painting

I have role models, and aspirations but I learned that there is no such thing as a textbook definition of “having it all”

I learned to count my blessings, and that my life is a beautiful canvas, with layers upon layers of colors being added, till one day I die, and the final painting tells the story of the life I really wanted, not the life I should have wanted

I count my blessings daily, and let go of all that holds me back and doesnt feel right. I learned that what people think of me is none of my business, and that if someone tells me I have it all, I honestly tell them I don’t and am not ashamed of it

I have, what I am meant to have, at this precise moment in life.

So as the year comes to an end, count your blessings, appreciate your story, don’t compare

Be content, be honest, be true and most of all be you!

Have a wonderful end to 2018 everyone. With lots of love

“Oh it’s nothing”…

“It’s nothing”, “No trouble at all”, “Please, no need to thank me”, these are all examples of toxic responses we can give when someone tries to show us appreciation for going the extra mile

Sometimes it really was no trouble at all, but more often than not, we say it because we get self conscious when someone thanks us and we don’t want to appear too cocky so we downgrade our efforts, and don’t easily accept and acknowledge gratitude towards us.

But with time, if we keep referring to our efforts as nothing, or to people continuously over stepping their boundaries as no trouble at all, and repetitively telling people they don’t have to thank us, people will start reacting to this.

Your extra miles become givens, your space becomes invaded and your efforts are overlooked, and when that happens you are left frustrated and feeling under appreciated

This extends to all aspects of our life, the friends that don’t appreciate your presence or respect your time, your significant other that takes everything you do for granted and expects you to jump through hoops while they exert minimal effort, the coworkers that expect you to do their work for them, or put in all these extra hours or be available around the clock. All this becomes the norm, rather than the exception. What was once a privelage now becomes a given and somewhere along the line you have overloaded yourself and let others overwhelm you with no consideration for your feelings or time

We get so angry at all these people, calling them ungrateful, or mean, etc, but, the real question is, why are we blaming them?

We are the ones that positioned ourselves at this value, because we refuse to believe that it’s ok to be thanked, that it’s not arrogance for someone to acknowledge your extra mile, and that going above and beyond should not be the on-going norm, because no one can survive on overdrive

I’m not saying don’t help out, or every now and then go the extra mile, but what I am saying is, acknowledge to yourself before others that your times and efforts are valuable. That the work you do, the effort you exert or the time you spend is precious; it is never equivelant to nothing.

Be humble yes, but also know your worth. Accept the thank yous, acknowledge the gratitude and most of all believe that you deserve it.

Your worth is what you define for yourself, it is how much you believe in you. How you value your life with every aspect in it, and if you continue to undersell yourself, devalue yourself and marginalize yourself, you will involuntarily reflect that in all your actions.

Stop being a 1 carat diamond that positions themselves as a 1 gram of coal.

When it comes to yourself, be appreciative, be confident, be valuable and be proud.

Be Soft…

One of the most beautiful things I have been told by my yoga instructor was “be soft, for when you are soft, you can bend, but cannot break.” I reflected so much on this sentence, and no advice has struck as sincere and as accurate as this one. 

We live in a very intense world, a world full of expectations, comparisons, restrictions, and very high, sometimes impossible, standards that we set for ourselves or are set for us by others.

The norm stops being what feels right for you, what you want to do, but rather becomes what “you have to do”and how you need to comply and conform to the “norm of society”. We endlessly compare ourselves to others, without knowing much about their journey, or their day to day life. We assess, position and rate ourselves, categorizing ourselves as successes or failures.

In the process of all this, we become rigid, inflexible and hard, mostly with ourselves. We often see any deviation from a plan as a failure, beat ourselves up over any change in circumstances, and are often too quick to harshly judge ourselves and others.

We break our happiness to conform, to fit in, we break our dreams, self-esteem and aspirations because we are so fixated on something.

Rigidity with yourself, your partner, your kids or those around you is dangerous, because we are meant to flow through life. If you don’t learn to be supple, fluid, soft and graceful you will break yourself in the process. 

Being soft is being adaptable, compassionate towards yourself and others, accommodating and forgiving. Being soft, is not being weak, on the contrary, it is the utmost definition of strength. Water can reshape mountains, just like being soft with yourself, can reshape the biggest obstacles and hardest adversities.

We are after all human,  and that is what we always need to remember.

Be soft, be patient, be kind and be human.