Glimpses from Fabulous Veils#1

I was moved by a burning desire. The desire to change. The desire to reveal. The desire to shake.

Many people wondered how I made it. How did I succeed to write for an hour on daily basis at 5:00 am in the morning, regardless of the weather and the circumstances. How did I persist and defeated all the challenged I faced until I had my novel ‘Fabulous Veils’ published?

The desires. I desired to change the rotten culture. I desired to reveal the brainwashing under the veils; the veils of religion, traditions and love. I desired to shake our misconceptions, limiting beliefs and thinking patterns.

My desire was for the families. Some people mistaken me for a feminist, while I’m not. My calling is for the community and its smallest unit; the family. ‘Fabulous Veils’ is a call for change, for actions. From all sides. A change from the men’s perspective about their wives and their roles towards their families. A change from the women’s perspective about romance, marriage, parenthood and spirituality. A change from the perspective of youth about rights, freedom, civilisation and open mindedness.

Dedicating my Mondays Arabic articles in November for the Teenagers, I decided to share some glimpses from ‘Fabulous Veils’ on weekly basis. Sharing scenes in which Teenagers were involved. Whether as a main or side character. I will not comment on the scene. Comments are open for the readers. I will just open a window to my perception.

The window this time is: 

Our children do and will do mistakes. In such cases, what difference will it make if we pause before reacting, then become proactive by dealing with the reason of the behaviour instead of the behaviour itself?

Leaving you with the Glimpse…

“Your daughter has a boyfriend ya Hanim wenty nayma ala wedanek,” Sherif had screamed back then. 

“What? What are you saying?” 

“What are you doing as a mother? You know nothing about your daughter?”

“Who said so?”

“I’m telling you. Your daughter is indecorous!”

“I can’t understand what you’re saying, stop shouting.”

“Stop shouting? Is it all that matters to you?”

“I can’t hear you. Calm down and explain.”

“Explain what? I’m telling you your daughter has a boyfriend. My mother saw her in a car with a boy last night.”

“And who said he’s a boyfriend. Maybe he’s a schoolmate.”

“Schoolmate driving a car? You want me to lose my mind?”

“Maybe it’s the brother of one of her friends.”

“And why was she riding with him in the car alone? And since when is she allowed to ride cars with her friends’ brothers? And where was the damn driver?”

Gameela started to sweat. 

“What was she doing last night in that car, with whom and where was the driver?”

Gameela remained silent, trying to put the words in an order that would put her into tolerable troubles.

 

Ramadan Poisonous Intake

“You’re not allowed to watch it until I do first and approve it,” my mother used to tell my sisters and me. With her strict character and high standards we knew that we would rarely watch a movie on the new video machine she had bought.  We lowered our expectations, accepted our fate and surrendered to watching only series and movies aired on the formal Egyptian television channels.

Getting married in my early twenties, I moved to my marital house and I had no one to supervise me. I spent hours on daily basis watching private television channels and revenging my years of deprivation. Insults, vulgar language and violent scenes shocked me. Little by little I became selective and followed actors who were known to add value and promote for good ethics. The more my professional and personal responsibilities increased the less time I had to watch TV. I committed to watch one episode during the month of Ramadan until I had a breakthrough. 

Writing my own novel ‘Fabulous Veils’  made me consider series and movies from a whole new perspective. I understood how Writers carefully select their words and creatively build their scenes to deliver certain messages and instil certain beliefs. I became more attentive while watching Drama and made sure to reflect on what I watched and reject what didn’t match my value system or my code of ethics. 

Few months after publishing my novel I started studying to become a Life Coach. Learning about NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), the language of the mind and the power of subconscious I had an OMG moment. I started reexamine my thoughts, ideas, opinions and beliefs. And sadly I discovered how, in may cases, Drama played a fundamental role in distorting them. 

“I’m following six different series this Ramadan,” my cousin declared last week. Her words left me bitter, understanding how, unconsciously, her mind and beliefs will be poisoned and how her personal and professional life might be affected with the cheap drama aired on countless channels in a condensed dosage during the ‘holy’ month of Ramadan.

Long live my mother who made sure to supervise what her daughters would watch and who made sure herself to watch what would develop her mind as a wife, a mother and most of all a human being and a role model.

If we became addicts to worthless drama, at least let us be intellectual viewers who reflect on what’s presented and who would make a quality control first on what to welcome in our conscious and subconscious minds.

Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become a reality.” – Earl Nightingale

Why Do We – Muslims – Fast Ramadan?

My mother had an aunt who was nearly her age and whom she considered her best friend. Whenever she felt angry she would call her aunt who would listen to her empathetically, calm her down and encourage her to be patient and strong in facing life’s adversities. They both belonged to a different world than the one we currently live in.

Scrolling the Facebook I feel puzzled with the large number of posts women share on their personal problems and conflicts with their spouses or divorcés. The hottest the problem is, the more likes and interactions. Comments vary between other women sharing more problems or encouraging the original post writer to avenge. And sadly, almost no one plays the role my mother’s aunt used to play.

Why do we Fast?

I started seriously to consider this question. Why apart from God’s many orders we still fast while neglecting other devotions? And what is fasting about from the first place? Was it meant to spend the day, while fasting, fighting with our spouses, complaining from our children and cursing our lives and circumstances? Didn’t the same God who ordered us to fast order us to have love and mercy in our marriages and to well raise our children?

‘Iqraa’ (Read) was the first order from God to his prophet Muhammed (PBUH). It was neither fast nor pray. And this order to read wasn’t for sure an order to read social media posts which go viral destroying marriages and tearing familial bonds. And though to ‘read’ was God’s first order, I learned in a recent course I attended that Arabs read an average of six minutes a year. SIX MINUTES A YEAR.

Fasting in the 21st Century

Shocked with the 6-minutes-news my mind started to wander. What if we adopted a new style of fasting. One in which we fast for a whole month from complaining from our families, from sharing our intimate problems on social media and from detoxing our minds from the poisonous posts on women’s private groups. What would happen if we start investing the same time we used to spend in such toxic activities in reading and learning about restoring marriages and raising children. And what if we go out of Ramadan with an action plan for the next year to put what we learned into practice. What if Ramadan became a month in which we fast from familial fights, conflicts and disputes and we come out of it with a peaceful home and better marriage ties. Isn’t Islam in its origin a religion of peace?

“Marriage is hard work. You cannot do it on your own. The secret is to always ask Allah to help you make it work.” 

 

Which Type of Abuse Are You Incubating?

I can’t imagine how stupid you are. What is it, don’t you have a brain?” ‘Stupid’, ‘lazy’, ‘fat’, ‘careless’, ‘dumb’, ‘ignorant’, are few examples of the insults women often embrace passively.

Insults don’t stick”, a friend once told me. “I don’t care if my husband insults me as long as he pays my checks,” laughingly she added. The same friend, a decade later, went through an aggressive divorce battle and had to give up all her possessions just to rescue herself and her children from a cheater and a domestic abuser. It’s true that words don’t stick, yet their impact does. The emotional pain of insults remains in our nervous system and our subconscious. And gradually we start to belittle ourselves and to accept what we thought we would never tolerate.

Fatma, the poor vulnerable help in Fabulous Veils, thought she was obeying God by surrendering to her husband. The greatest heaven was the reward she awaited in exchange to her husband’s verbal, physical and sexual abuse.

Gameela, the middle class wife, accepted an unhealthy marriage under the name of love. Baring verbal abuse at first and then physical abuse and infidelity.

Madiha, the high class divorced woman, protecting her reputation, remained silent towards her husband’s financial abuse and her manager’s sexual harassment.

Why do women accept abuse?

Brainwashing. Whether at schools, on traditional media channels or social media, we are subject to subliminal messages all the time. Forming, or better say deforming, our beliefs about ourselves and our capabilities. We get raised in an environment that incubate gender inequality. We don’t object that boys be treated differently than girls. We grow up thinking that men’s main role is to work and provide money and women’s main role is to raise children. We let go of our rights, and many of us so often live and die unaware of their rights.

Advertising, music, atmospheres, subliminal messages and films can have an impact on our emotional life, and we cannot control it because we are not even conscious of it.” Tariq Ramadan

Who are the worst abusers?

Parents who disempower their daughters, from my perspective, are the first and most violent abusers. And husbands who continue to disempower their wives are the most stupid of all. For how could abused women raise healthy and stable children? When we disempower women we actually corrupt the world.

If you really want to change a culture… empower women.” Greg Mortenson

 

Fate or Destiny, Which One Are You Living?

Religion. One of the concepts people aggressively use to veil our brains. ‘Ady Allah we ady hekmeto’ (that is God’s will and wisdom), was the mantra Sheikh Hassan taught Fatma, the vulnerable Help in Fabulous Veils. Brainwashed by false religious teachings, she surrendered to her violent husband. Embraced his domestic abuse. And she called it ‘fate’.

Do we truly have no control over the events of our lives? ‘Nassiby’, ‘Kadary’, ‘Esmety’, are examples of the words the society install in our brains and they become a part of our identity. Scared to be accused of not worshiping God, we consider it a taboo to discuss religion.

Would we ever give ourselves permission to discuss this taboo? Identifying what’s sacred and holy from what’s evil and ugly? Not allowed to think, Fatma accepted the Sheikh’s words and took them for granted. She was an illiterate poor maid. She lacked the ability to think logically, analyse and reflect. What about us the ‘educated’? Do we allow ourselves to think or evaluate what we were taught about religion? Or are we acting like Fatma, creating more misery on Earth; accepting to be victims of fate?

Year after year we keep worshiping Allah during Ramadan through fasting, praying, donating and serving. Why not adding to these practices the habit of thinking? To reflect and evaluate our contributions in God’s kingdom. To study the concepts we were taught about religion and their frames of references. Why not shaping our destinies through selected positive actions that we choose instead of submitting to a fate that we believe it’s ours?

Fate is the preordained course of your life that will occur because of or in spite of your actions. Destiny is a set of predetermined events within your life that you take an active course in shaping.”

Which Role Are You Playing, the Martyr or the Victim?

Governments in less developed countries create constant crises to keep their citizens busy with the struggle of everyday life’. This is one of the concepts I had studied in the 20th century. Whether it’s the traffic, the economic inflation, the terrorism, it doesn’t matter. All what matters is to keep people struggling with their safety and physiological needs so that they stay distracted and claim no rights.

Madiha and Mony, two of my female characters in Fabulous Veils, weren’t struggling like the majority of the Egyptian population. They belonged to the Elite. Their family had power and their basic human needs were fulfilled. They both had awareness. However, their lives took different detours. Madiha, the mother, was aware that she didn’t want to get married that young. She was aware she wanted to postpone her marriage. She was aware that her groom was cold. And though she had awareness, she stood still doing nothing. She took the seat of the audience and allowed her mother to direct her life like a marionette.  She played the role of the victim and wrongly believed she was a martyr.

Mony, the daughter, was aware too that she didn’t want to get married. She was aware that she wanted to study abroad. And she was aware that she won’t accept to be treated as a marionette. She found in her mother no martyrs and she refused to become another copy of her mother, grandmother and great ancestors. She communicated her needs, her wants, her dreams. And though she communicated them clearly, she was neither heard nor understood.

Awareness and communication weren’t enough. To live her own life and create her own fate she needed to take the whole responsibility on her shoulders. She needed to stand up for her choices. She needed to be bold and to be strong.

Love, the purest and most holy power on Earth, should never become our curse. Our beloved ones don’t have the right to control our lives or slaughter our dreams. True love, whether it’s from a parent or a lover, should empower us and turn us into heroes and role models. Love wasn’t meant to create neither victims nor martyrs.

You don’t get good karma by making yourself into a martyr. Learn how to stand up for yourself and your good karma will be delivered in that instant.” Bryant MCGILL

That’s Why Awareness Turns Into A Curse

Is your heart aching? William Shakespeare claimed that: “Expectation is the root of all heartache”. And I wonder; had he been mistaken?

A couple of months ago I got certified as a Meta-Coach. On the same day of receiving my certificate, my mother and sisters surprised me with a cake and a beautiful bunch of flowers and celebrated my achievement.

Later on the same day my partner congratulated me verbally, warmly, and did nothing more. He didn’t arrange for me a surprise or get me a special gift on such a meaningful event for me. I remembered Gameela, one of my main characters in Fabulous Veils. How her partner failed to meet her expectations and how this was one of the main causes that bombarded their love story. Expectations from both sides.

I took a little pause to think of what I really wanted. I wished to celebrate with my husband my accomplishment. It didn’t matter for me that it would be a surprise. What mattered was that we celebrate together this milestone. I remembered John Gray’s teachings. I recalled how my partner comes from Mars and how I come from a different planet; planet Venus. I was aware that he loved me not less than my mother and sisters who all came from Venus. I remembered how he surprises me from time to time. And how his work was overwhelming him in this period. And though I was aware of what I wanted, I knew that awareness wouldn’t take me anywhere. I knew I had to communicate what I wanted. And most importantly, to communicate it in the language that my partner understands; the language of planet Mars.

Attending a Jazz concert at the Cairo Opera House was my choice for celebration. We spent a night-to-remember enjoying the melodies and each other. My heart was filled with gratitude to both my partner and Shakespeare. I refused to live my life as a victim like Gameela. I learned from her that awareness without communication is a curse that fires people’s lives and it starts by destroying them from within.

Men are motivated and empowered when they feel needed. Women are motivated and empowered when they feel cherished.” John Gray

What Do You Want?

Is it possible to reach a certain destination without identifying it clearly from the first place? It’s true that Hanan, the help’s daughter in Fabulous Veils was completely aware of what she didn’t want. However, her life didn’t turn out to be a terrific one. She refused to work like her mother and she ended up doing nothing. Nothing.

Are We Aware of What We Want?

“To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.” Stephen R. Covey. 

This quote reveals a big secret behind our constant dissatisfaction. Do we have a clear vision of what we want? It’s true that it’s important to identify what we don’t want, yet this is only the beginning. The next step is to figure out clearly and specifically what do we want.

Begin with the End in Mind

This is the title of the second habit of highly effective people in Covey’s best selling book. In simple words he invited the reader to imagine his 80th birthday. Then to think of the people he wishes they would be there and what they would say about the life he had carried on. If you were celebrating your 80th birthday now would you be surrounded with the people who matter to you the most? Are you aware of who they are? And are you currently putting deposits in their accounts and communicating to them genuinely what they mean to you? What about your values and what you’re standing for in your life. Would people succeed in speaking about the principles you demonstrated and your contributions. Would their speeches be aligned with what you devoted your life to.

Less is More

In order to become aware of what we want we need to have less. Less possessions, less noise, less business, less waste of time. We need to have more time for reflection, for meditation, for silence and for stillness. More time away from the materialistic life. More time in nature. More time walking barefoot and connecting to earth and its elements. More time to journal our thoughts and our dreams. More time to imagine and envision the life that would make us stay immortal in the hearts of our beloved ones. More time to think of our strengths and uniqueness and how to use them for the best of mankind.

“Less is always more. The best language is silence. We live in a time of a terrible inflation of words, and it is worse than the inflation of money.” Eduardo Galeano

Watch Covey’s video of the 80th birthday at:

 

To Which Extent Do Your Thinking Equations Limit You?

“If…then” is a mindset that dominates many people’s lives. “If I disagree with my friends then I will lose them. If I negotiate my salary then my boss will think I’m materialistic and impolite. If I quit my job for a career shift then I will be considered a traitor to my organisation.” These are just three examples for several mindsets that were operating my mind and hence running and ruining my life. They reminded me with one of the equations we learned in Algebra; having the value of X and some givings at the beginning enabled us to predict the exact value of Y. All people would get the same answer despite their differences and individualities.

I love Algebra. Mathematics is my favourite discipline and Algebra is my favourable branch. However, life isn’t a Mathematical course. It includes limitless variables that we should guarantee nothing. “If… then” is one of the mindsets we ought to be attentive to and cautious to its effects.

“If I hadn’t studied literature then I can’t write a novel.” This was one of the thinking patterns I updated during the past year. I turned it into: “If I hadn’t studied literature then I need to learn and develop certain skills to write a novel.” I allowed myself to give it a try and the results were fantastic. Changing my thinking equation enabled me to write my first novel which became a bestseller at Virgin mega stores. It enabled me to make my career shift from Education to Coaching and Training. It allowed me to experience my life from a meta-level; a level beyond. Whenever I catch myself struggling I start analysing my mindset, evaluating and correcting it in order to live my life up to my highest dreams.

Changing my mindset allowed me to adopt a new life style, to unleash new potentials and mostly to become happier and more confident. One of my updated equations became: ’If I hadn’t studied…. then I need to learn and develop certain skills.’

Are you living up to your highest best? If not, is it your mindset what’s limiting you? Why wasting your time and settling for an average life? Help yourself or seek help. Just refuse to live and die without leaving a legacy that would prove that you existed one day on planet earth.

Once your mindset changes, everything on the outside will change along with it.” — Steve Maraboli

The Greatest Agent of Change

“I’m not working as a khadama!” yelled Hanan. The vulnerable poor girl who was oppressed since she was born insisted, opposing her mother who was trying to convince her to work as a help, just like her.

Many people feel lost, unaware of what to do with their lives. Uncertain about their passion, their mission and their life purpose. When asked for an advice, I encourage my students and friends to start by doing what Hanan, my side character in Fabulous Veils, had done. Identifying what we don’t want is a great progress on the path of personal fulfilment . Becoming aware of what we don’t want our life to turn to brings us clarity and motivates us to move away from it.

My father was a Surgeon. His vocation was very demanding. He spent his early mornings writing papers and books. In his mornings and noons he was a Professor and he deliberately spent his evenings in his clinic. This left us, his family, only with one meal with him over the course of the day. We understood he was busy for a holy mission, hence, my mother was the one in charge of raising me and my three sisters.

Turning into an adult, I was aware I didn’t want to marry a doctor. I didn’t want to raise my children on my own. I didn’t want them to feel the void I felt. And I didn’t want to live as a single mother while being married. My next step was thinking of the traits I won’t tolerate to live with. I knew I wouldn’t stand stinginess, poor hygiene and dishonesty. Being aware of what I don’t want gave me clarity of what to turn down.

To which extent are we aware of what we don’t want? Whether in our personal lives, our professions, our style of living and our relationships. If you don’t feel satisfied with your current life, slow down and start paying attention of what you don’t want.

Awareness is the greatest agent of change.” — Eckhart Tolle