Yesterday at the airport there was a bride in her wedding gown flying to meet her groom. In her full gown and made up to the nines she looked gorgeous, happy and stuffy. Almost 7 years ago to the day I flew to Kuwait with my husband as a newly wed after my wedding and quick honeymoon. I spent years feeling sorry for myself that most of my family had never visited me at my new home, that I had never been able to host a family dinner and that they are never near by.
But years have passed, years that have added wisdom and peace. I never could understand why a woman would do that. Traveling is stressful enough without having to wear a wedding dress. A white one that will probably pick up dust and dirt. Make up that will probably smudge and melt in the heat of the plane. Being cramped in those tiny seats that seem to be designed to torture anyone who is taller than a meter and a half while wearing a huge dress.
But a week earlier I had watched a bride arrive at the airport and I heard the claps, the ululations (زغاريط) and the happiness of people who were waiting for her to arrive and I finally understood. This was a woman who chose to deal with all of these discomforts to be happy, to take what was given to her by life and to accept it and enjoy it. She still got to wear the dress, she still got the celebrations but most of us, she was still a bride who was happy to be married and join her husband.
We do not choose what happens in life, we only choose to accept it and enjoy it, or to refuse and whine about it. And we all know that whinging does not work. It just robs you of happiness. I spent years doing the latter. Trying hard to change the unchangeable and challenging a fate I could not control. I was robbed of happiness. I robbed myself of it. I chose to be miserable and sad. I was so caught up in wallowing in my own misery instead of enjoying all of the things I had been blessed with without any doing of my own.
I say a little prayer for airport brides, may they forever be happy, may they be blessed with happy and full marriages and lives, may they always have the ability, wisdom and grace to walk in their lives with smiles on their faces whatever they may face. May their husbands understand the sacrifices they have made of leaving family behind and trekking out in the world on their own to meet them half way. May they always be blessed with the ability to find the silver lining.
“Expect nothing and accept everything.” I read that quote somewhere and it sounds defeatist at first, but it isn’t. It is finding the strength not to put conditions on happiness. It is harder than it sounds but it is rewarding.
As someone who has a perfectionist for a mother, I’m quite used to hearing a constant barrage of comments about my weight , my skin, my career and my single status
Even though my mother means well and she’s a sweetheart who has helped mold me and my sister IMHO to be amazing people (heheh very humble of me), it still sometimes hurts but there is a bright side , criticism is the best and most direct way to self improvement , I realized that after meeting people who were brought up with mothers and fathers who never criticized even when their kid was doing something extremely stupid so I know I don’t say this enough but I really do appreciate my mother very much 😀
However , even when it comes from the one person who loves you the most in the world it does sting a bit but to get the best out of a critical comment without breaking your psyche into tiny pieces here’s how to deal with it
Know your critic
There’s a huge difference between the abusive bf who told you you were fat even when your ribs stuck out, or a jealous colleague who told you that you dress slutty even when you were pregnant and only wore dungarees and someone who actually cares like a family member or a close friend who has proven to you over time and experience that they have your best interest at heart
Even then not all of their criticism is valid it could still be their own point of view and is irrelevant to you
Listen carefully to what people say and how they say it and measure their genuinity without emotions then think about it calmly and rationally and evaluate if this is something you personally think is something you would like to improve
The unwanted criticism
After listening and knowing who NOT to listen to this is how to deal
When someone makes fun of you or criticizes you to put you down the first thing you must know about this person is they are insecure and feed on making other people feel bad so these are the rules
1-Do not answer back with a criticism of your own its mean and makes you look petty and starts a hostile war that you might not be able to sustain
2-Do not show any emotional reaction of being hurt or of being weakened by this verbal attack , if you can ignore it and look at the person directly as if they just asked you what time it is? Do that , not only will they feel bad that they put themselves in a bad situation of seeming like a bully they also realize they have no hold on you .Reacting means the bully won
3-Do not talk to them about it or tell someone to tell them to stop it, only of course in the case of an unwanted critic who you know has other motives to criticize
However in the case of the stupid friend ( the one who has a case of foot in mouth disease) and means no harm in telling you repeatedly that you look tired and have dark circles under your eyes , you can always tell her gently but firmly on the spot to quit it
The “good intention” critic
After establishing and filtering out the wrong type of critics you are left with the people who care
They do care but they don’t necessarily care to mince their words , if you have a friend who does this a lot at first try to take an objective look at the words and incorporate them into you self improvement plan without losing faith in yourself
You could gently tell the person to choose another way to criticize you like writing you a list in bullets to avoid hurtful comments and to protect you from being hurt by the way they choose to hand you the criticism , it’s also a good way to take control of the situation
You have probably noticed that I haven’t told you to tell the person to stop criticizing you regardless whether it Is wanted or unwanted criticism
The answer is simple Ive met a lot of people in my life who are very good at shutting out any type of opinion or comment on any personal or professional issue , even though these people are blissfully “criticism free” they live on with their faults and people choose to avoid them rather than have to deal with their annoying perks (and we all have them no matter how awesome you are)
Last but not least these are the affirmations you need to tell yourself after criticism
1-I am amazing but have room for improvement
2-Fault in action is not fault in character
3-I am loved and cherished
My sister and I had this email exchange yesterday
Reema: Away keda ya wadee3
Jessyz: hehehehehehh begad daye3een molody dool
R: Safala wen7edar bsara7a our country is going down the toilet
J: Mesh ba7es keda ba7es en u have two extremes emerging. Both extremes are louder than the huge quiet majority.
R: Yeah some ppl r giving in and some r trying to save themselves ur either in or out. Sa7 ana ba7es kaman no body is living quietly anymore. Everyone is trying to make everything into a statement and they r screaming it at the top of their lungs
J: I am stealing this conversation for my blog
And there was another one earlier that day:
J: Every time [much younger relatives name] posts something I realize how we thought the world revolved around only us and our interests when we were younger
R: Haahah yeah that’s so true ana ba7es keda bardo and how cool we thought we were. Then I realized something no matter how famous and important you are you are still to some people completely insignificant and no matter how insignificant and unknown you are you are still the world to some people. 😉 When u believe that u relax because everything doesn’t matter but still everything matters fahma??
*Disclaimer: this is the exact conversation raw and edited only for spelling mistakes*
My wonderful and amazing sister was telling me about the book “Make Every Man Want You (or Make yours want you more)” by Marie Forleo and especially about the following chapter:
Many women find it challenging to acknowledge and compliment other irresistible women, especially while in the presence of their man. Insecure women will criticize another woman’s clothing, shoes, bag, hair, body, makeup, or success. These catty and critical women mistakenly believe that tearing down another; irresistible woman will somehow be a preemptive strike and prevent their man from finding the other woman desirable. Nothing could be farther from the truth!
First of all, being critical of another woman casts you in a bad light. You are seen as insecure and jealous. And let’s be honest, your man probably noticed her at least ten minutes before you did, so why pretend otherwise?
Here’s the other thing. By bad-mouthing attractive women, you unconsciously program yourself not to become one. The universe is like a big photocopy machine that sends back to you copies of what you “order” through your thoughts. By being catty and critical, your thoughts are sending “attractive is bad” out to the universe, and the universe has no choice but to say, “Yes, master! Attractive is .” Because none of us wants to be bad, we will not allow ourselves to become attractive or, heaven forbid, irresistible.
Here’s what to do. When you notice another hot woman, silently bless her and say, “That’s right, girl. W-o-r-k!” This will recondition your mind to approve of being attractive, and the universe has no choice but to say, “Yes, master!” and support you in being as foxy as you want to be. Personally, I like to point out attractive women so both my partner and I can enjoy the eye candy. It is fun and supports honesty between us, and the bottom line is that he’s coming home with me.
I actually saw the light bulb go off in my head when she told me about it. It was not just about attractiveness, but about anything and everything you wish you had more of.
Disclaimer : From the reviews and what my sisters said, this isn’t a book about doing stuff or following rules for men to want you but more about loving yourself and enjoying yourself so your man will love you more. It’s not about dating but about reality and relationships.
ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا رَجُلًا فِيهِ شُرَكَاءُ مُتَشَاكِسُونَ وَرَجُلًا سَلَمًا لِرَجُلٍ هَلْ يَسْتَوِيَانِ مَثَلًا الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ بَلْ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
ثم قال ” ضرب الله مثلا رجلا فيه شركاء متشاكسون ” أي يتنازعون في ذلك العبد المشترك بينهم ” ورجلا سلما ” أي سالما ” لرجل ” أي خالصا لا يملكه أحد غيره ” هل يستويان مثلا ” أي لا يستوي هذا وهذا كذلك لا يستوي المشرك الذي يعبد آلهة مع الله والمؤمن المخلص الذي لا يعبد إلا الله وحده لا شريك له فأين هذا من هذا ؟ قال ابن عباس رضي الله عنهما ومجاهد وغير واحد : هذه الآية ضربت مثلا للمشرك والمخلص ولما كان هذا المثل ظاهرا بينا جليا قال ” الحمد لله ” أي على إقامة الحجة عليهم ” بل أكثرهم لا يعلمون ” أي فلهذا يشركون بالله
ألأصل : .
If we were born with an expiry date or just like a DOB ( date of birth) we had a DOD ( date of death ) written in our birth ceritificates would our lives be any different?
We would not need a death certificate, they could just add a feild for reason of death that could be filled out once we die. It could help reduce the load of paperwork for our loved ones once we are gone.
On a more serious note though, would we be more daring and experience more living or would we be apathetic towards life. Human beings tend to live thinking that they will live forever until they actually get old or just die suddenly. The first thing that comes to mind is that people with shorter life spans would get discriminated against. They would become undesirable for marriage, jobs and even buying things in installments. Which most probably would lead to a whole new world of forgery. We would probably read books and watch movies about love stories where couples would fight for their love because one person knew he would only live for another year or two and the other decades but they would still choose to get married and be together for whatever time they had. Genetic studies would explore the human genome to find if they can modify your unborn baby’s genes to get a longer living baby. Would people who knew they would live longer take better care of their health? Would they make more friends and try more things because they know they have enough time to change their mind? Would decisions be harder or easier to make?
It is a blessing that we do not know.
At the end of the day it does not matter because
“اعمل لدنياك كأنك تعيش أبدا واعمل للآخرة كأنك تموت غدا”
“work for your earthly life as if you live forever and work for the hereafter as if you die tomorrow”
This is sometimes said to be a hadith, but after a bit of research it was either said by Ali Ibn Abu Taleb or an unknown source. Al Albany claimed that it was hadith da3if.
Either way, whomever said it, it has a lot of truth in it.
I am a dreamer. I dream of the things I want to do. I imagine myself doing them just the way that I want. But moving from that phase to the actual doing is always a difficult step. I always feel that I need to think it thru, to make sure that I will do the right thing and not regret it, that I am sure that I can deal with all of the obstacles on the way. Of course there are other times when I just jump right in and just do it. It usually depends on how confident I feel that I can do that thing. The thing that does not change is the fact that I am a dreamer.
I don’t mind the part in the middle, well not unless it is taking a REALLY long time, then I usually get bored and start wanting to move on to other things.
I love the ending, especially when it is a happy one. I enjoy watching a project coming to completion, having seen it blossom from nothing into something good is always a good thing. By then I am usually racing to the finish line, wanting to congratulate myself on the win and already dreaming of something new.
The reason I am talking about all of this was because I was thinking about why I don’t get to do all of the things I really want to do. I realized that I am a slow starter and that even when it does appear that I have jumped right in I have usually given something lots of thought.
Is it something that can be changed? I don’t think so, I sometimes have conversations in my head and keep telling myself not to think about it too much and if I don’t like what I am doing I can always go back and do something else. But the thing is, I always feel the need to finish what I started. For instance I find it really difficult not to finish a book, although now if I am reading a book that I don’t like I just put it down and start a new one because I don’t have time to waste on bad books. When I was younger I would read a book even if I hated it from the very beginning to the very last page because I always thought it just might get better somewhere in the middle. Now, I don’t.
Maybe it just needs practice. Or maybe it is just something that changes with aging and maturing and understanding that it is ok to take a U turn when you need to or that it is ok if you don’t finish something or that finding what you really want to do takes the courage and patience to keep trying. To be able to push yourself to start things you are not really interested in to find the things that you are.
What kind of person are you? Have you changed? Do you think you can change?
Disclaimer: This is my own personal opinion based on my own personal life, circumstances, personality and other stuff. This does not apply to any other expat except myself, unless that expat can relate.
First things first, what is an expat? An expat is a person who is voluntarily absent from home or country.
I did not really choose to come to Kuwait, not directly anyway. I never really wanted to leave Egypt. You see I am one of those crazy people who actually love Egypt and want to stay and build a better country for the younger generations which will come after us. I see huge potential in my country and believe that my generation can help start the fixing process. After graduation I watched lots of young graduates leaving for better paid jobs or better opportunities and I remember having several discussions with them or people still considering leaving. My argument was always the same, even if I did choose to leave I would go to learn something and come back and use the knowledge to help my own people. I never wanted to leave for the money. You have to know some more background info to know why I feel this way. I was born in Kuwait, then moved to Scotland with my family as a child and then back to Egypt as a tween. I suffered terribly from culture shock. I spent years trying to fit in until I decided to stop fitting in. I was a third culture kid, I was different, I had a different set of ideals and values. Unlike the rest of the kids at school, I did not have a best friend whom I had been raised with and knew since Kinder Garten. With every move I had to start all over again. To be honest, all of this moving taught me flexibility, openness and tolerance which most kids my age new nothing about. Unfortunately these skills are not very useful when you are 13 trying to make new friends. My own father chose to leave a permanent job in the UK so that he could go back to Egypt to use what he learned to help Egypt. The offer was he could become a citizen within a year and we would follow shortly after. We grew up understanding and respecting his choice and thinking that this was the only right thing to do. When I met the man whom I eventually married, he was already living in Kuwait and I understood that Kuwait came with the marriage. At the time I was excited, happy and in love. When we discussed where we would live, he too wanted to come back to Egypt but had to tie some loose ends. Things happened, we got married and the loose ends sort of unraveled a little bit more and we still have installments to pay for which is basically why we are here. My mom did warn me, but I didn’t really listen, she thought we should wait until he came back to Egypt. Sometimes I think she was right. But then again, she too resigned from a bright career in Academia (Medical School) to be with my father in Kuwait, so maybe it was a case of monkey see, monkey do. She could have taken unpaid leave and spent half of her time in Egypt and the other half in Kuwait, but she just could not break up a family like that. My husband himself told me if we postponed our wedding we might not have to stay in Kuwait. At the time the situation just wouldn’t have worked out any other way. I still believe I made the right choice despite everything else.
Now that you know the story let me tell you what I think about being an expat.
You are not a citizen and you will never be one
This is the case in Kuwait. Unlike expats who live in the UK, US or other countries, who eventually choose to become citizens. In Kuwait you do not have that choice. So you know that it is a temporary situation that might last for a year or sixty. Knowing that you eventually have to leave or get kicked out is a looming inevitabilty that everyone thinks about some time or another. You can not own your house, you can only rent. You can not make long term plans or goals because you know it just might not happen. You have limited rights and you are not represented in parliament. At the end of the day you are just a worker here, doing a job that is not permanent. Since the economic crisis lots of people have lost their jobs, some chose to stay and take pay cuts and others chose to go back home. It is sad watching someone fight the clock to find a job because their visa will expire and not only do they have to deal with job loss, but they might also have to deal with moving and other things.
You are also a stranger in your home country
Things change, you go back home to find people look different, buildings have been demolished and others replaced them, relationships between people have changed; best friends parted, couples divorced, couples married, people have died and babies have been born. You don’t know where the hip restaurants are anymore, you have no idea where to shop and you are totally lost.
Change is natural, normal and inevitable. But perhaps the scariest thing about change when you choose to become an expat is that you drift from who you were. Let me remind you that this is a very personal thing. But no matter how hard you try, things will change. I am not talking about maturing and growing up kind of change. But the kind of change that comes with new and different priorities. Some people living in the gulf end up being very dull. Shopping becomes their new hobby and restaurants are the only place they go out to.
Life lacks balance
Life is work, end of story, full stop, period. When I was in Egypt, I’d go to Sakiet el Sawi, Alexandria Library and lots of other places for cultural events. We’d visit museums or just go to the beach at Montaza. Most people here have limited options. I am not saying that these things don’t exist. I am just saying it takes time to find these events or a network of friends who are interested in these things. Sometimes you change and stop caring before you manage to find them.
You can not choose your friends
You can’t choose your friends anywhere, but when the pool of available people is smaller it becomes even harder to choose friends. Let me be very clear, there are acquaintances and there are friends. Acquaintances are the people you can go out with or have a conversation with that usually revolves around the weather. Friends are people you can count on to be there when you need them to. Friendships take a long time to build, trust is earned along the years and memories forge this bond. When you do not have that kind of time and history you end up with people who are closer to being acquaintances than being real friends. Of course there are some people who are really good at making friends. Unfortunately I am not. It can be very lonely sometimes.
The money is not that good anymore
Some people assume that because I live in Kuwait that there is an oil field in our kitchen. It is not true. On second thoughts I am glad it is not true, can you imagine how much work running an oil field would be? Salaries are higher than in Egypt that is true, but so is the rent, food and all of your other expenses. I am not trying to say it is a tough life or that we are poor. Al Hamdu Lillah, we are not, this is not because of Kuwait anyway, Allah gives what He pleases, to whom he pleases, when He pleases. I am just trying to say that if people assume that just because they will be making 4 or 5 times more money than they are making in Egypt that that does not also mean that they will be spending 4 or 5 times what they already spend then they have no idea of what they are getting themselves into. Just for example, rent is a big chunk of what we spend here. My phone bill is crazy because most of my calls are long distance.
There is no support
For someone like me being away from family is hard. We have a large tight knit family that act as a constant support group. Living thousands of miles away makes that kind of support harder to get.
This is not a rant post or a complaint one. This is just me stating the facts. There are of course lots of good things about being an expat. You get to experience different cultures and meet different people. You learn to adapt and learn how to deal with life on your own without friends or family. You have the chance to become so much more than you ever were and to rise up to that challenge, to grow and fulfill your potential or you can regress and become lesser of a person. The choice is always yours. You can choose to meet every challenge or obstacle by sitting down and crying next to it or you can turn them into stepping stones to your goal. Whatever you decide in life you should always know that you are the one who will have to deal with the consequences of your decisions. You should learn not to assume things but to question, research, learn and look into things with an open mind so you can make the right decisions for you.
This post was inspired by this other post from over there. I hate being judged as a mother. Motherhood has also taught me to stop judging other mothers. Before I became a mother I would see little toddlers throwing tantrums in the supermarket and think if that kid’s mother disciplined him well he wouldn’t be acting out. Fast forward and my little girl will occasionally throw a mega temper tantrum in public because she wants to stand in the shopping cart and pull stuff off the shelves and throw them on the floor and I won’t let her. It is embarrassing for myself and annoying to other customers, but I can’t let her run wild. I had to choose between the lesser of two evils. If I let her do what she wants I will still be judged as a bad mother. The only women who don’t judge me are the ones with children the same age as my daughter, they pass by and smile or laugh and sometimes even tell me it will pass and she will grow up and stop doing that, exactly the same way I treat other mothers when I see them helplessly trying to deal with an angry toddler. Toddlers are little energizer bunnies with mood swings and chocolate highs. Which is why I limit her chocolate intake. It is like there is always someone around who thinks you can be doing a better job and has to tell you about it. Give her a banana, she should eat more meat, she should drink more milk, she should wear a coat, she’s hungry, she’s thirsty, tell her to sleep (like I could do that) and the list goes on for ever. It is even more annoying when the advice is coming from a man. No offense to the guys, but most of them really have no idea. Like food for example, I have a very stubborn and obstinate daughter, she will not eat when she’s not hungry and she will not wait for food when she’s hungry. If she’s hungry she will tell me and insist on eating NOW and she usually will ask for something specific. I don’t mind. I really don’t care what she eats and in what order as long as through out the day she gets her nutrients and enough caloric intake. I mean who cares if she eats the pasta on its own first, then the chicken and then munches on the vegetables as a snack later in the evening. We were once out for lunch and my daughter decided to eat all of the cucumber slices she could find first to the horror of our friends who kept saying she should eat the carbs and proteins first. I agree, in a perfect world she should, but in my world she can eat in whichever order she pleases as long as she eats a hearty, healthy and nutritious meal. Like this morning for example, she woke up and asked for cheese then cereal. Other days she will whine for a scrambled egg. My own personal belief is that even though I am the mother and somewhat in charge, she is still a little teeny tiny person with her own set of taste buds and cravings.
Finding your own parenting style is difficult, but unless you find something you really are comfortable with you will just confuse your kid and end up feeling exhausted and unhappy most of the time. When I was pregnant I had these illusions of being a strict disciplinarian. When she decided to pop out I realized I was totally kidding myself. I am not very high on self discipline myself so how can I suddenly snap my fingers and become the icon of self discipline. I am on the other hand mellow, relaxed and somewhat patient so I kept trying different things until I found a style that fit. I let her be, and let her do what she wants on her own time as long as it is not dangerous. Once her safety is at stake I put my foot down and do it firmly and quietly. This has resulted in having to clean more than the stricter mother. I’ve had to wash carpets, floors, clothes and sometimes the walls because of little experiments gone bad, but my guess is that because she gets to try stuff for herself once she is told not to do something and is given an alternative she is usually responsive. Again, I am not advocating any style I am just saying that this is what works for me.
Some things were a struggle at first, like buckling her into the car seat. She would kick and scream, but since her safety is more important than a couple of minutes of kicking and screaming I insisted and she stopped resisting. She has figured out how to free her arms from its confines though. She’s a little budding Houdini. Sometimes when I have friends with me in the car they’ll say that they can take her out of it and have her sit on their laps but I always say no, I am proud of my mini accomplishment of taming my toddler into understanding some of the constraints of life and don’t want to be inconsistent.
My husband will sometimes question my methods or ideas, but he has given me the freedom to do what I believe is best for her and is supportive most of the time. The other time is when she’s daddy’s little girl and has him wrapped around her little pinkie. Those times are when she will sit on his lap and make him feed her chocolate or will make him change the channel while he’s watching a serious show so that she can watch Curious George. Sometimes he is more patient than I am when I have had a long day and am tired and will cuddle her to sleep and sometimes when he has had a long an exhausting day he can’t handle her whining so he becomes a tougher disciplinarian but not for long usually because he’s just a huge softie inside. But to be honest even when he criticizes my ways or points out what I am doing wrong I don’t like it. No mother wants to be told that what she is doing is not the best for her child.
So my advice is this, when you see a frazzled mother instead of pointing the finger ask if she needs help, because she just might say she does and please if she asks for something specific bite your tongue and try to do what she wants instead of doing what you think she should have asked for. Honestly, most moms can figure out the best way to do things on their own, they just need to learn the ropes on their own so they can be confident enough while they are using them. And maybe once she has relaxed she might ask for your advice and maybe she might take it and try to implement it her way.
It all started when we had the Uno, my sister and I would fight who would get to put their Diet Pepsi can in the mesh holder, the person driving usually won. Then it became and even bigger obsession when I would run out the door on my way to work with my coffee mug still hot and drink my coffee on the way to work or when I’d buy a latte from the next door Cilantro. I wanted a car with cup holders then, and I still do. I don’t go to work and I only drink coffee early in the morning if my daughter is still asleep and I never take my coffee with me and I almost never buy coffee when I am out. Coffee is hot and is also a magnet for little curious hands that still do not fully understand the concept of “hot” even though she does know the word “2oh2ah” which roughly translates to “so5na”.
Then why on earth do I still think about cup holders? Perhaps we become so obsessed about things at a given point in time that it becomes imprinted in our unconscious? My only use for a cup holder in a car right now would be to put my daughter’s sippy cups, which she usually wants to hold during any journey in the car anyways.
How many things have you bought or even just wanted even though they no longer made sense? How many things do you still own that you have no need for, but can’t let go of because of some long forgotten emotional bond? As humans we tend to get attached to things, ideas and people. We can’t let go or won’t let go because of the emotional investment in them. Even when we fully comprehend that we no longer believe in these things.
What won’t you let go of?