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

Are You Aware of the Evil You Are Infusing? 

My experience was tough. It was very hard at first. Teaching teenagers wasn’t an easy job. Until I started to love them unconditionally, accepting their flows and focusing on what they do right instead of catching them doing mistakes. One of the tools I held on to was Goethe’s quote: “If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.

I started creating for them experiences in which they show their talents and demonstrate their potentials. I encouraged them to be real and genuine. I did it for years while feeling satisfied with what I did between the walls of my classroom as an Educator.

What I wasn’t aware that I wasn’t aware of was what I was doing behind the walls of my home. With my daughter, who was a teenager too. ‘Maa’ndish banat’ was one of the statements I used with her to express my rejection towards some of her requests. Ignoring Goethe’s words and instilling in my daughter’s head that she is a girl, and hence she doesn’t have same rights like her brother. “Why?” My answer to her question was limited to: “Because you’re a girl”. It was a complete sentence for me back then. It included the meaning between the lines. It held the misconceptions my community transmitted from generation to another. And currently I no wonder why many women play the victim. We treat them as they are as ‘vulnerable creatures’ and they remain as they are, ‘victims’.

My Fabulous Veils readers were angry at Gameela, my main character. For her submission. For her victimhood mode. For not standing for her rights. For not confronting her husband Sherif. On my turn I don’t feel angry at Gameela. I feel angry at the brainwash I was subject to. I feel angry at myself for living for years with rotten beliefs, accepting them and not taking a single action except for raising my children to believe in them too.

My daughter once told me a story of a carpenter who used to craft beautiful handmade pieces every time he felt angry. He did it to channel his anger, believing that anger is energy that he needed to get it out. I loved the story and adopted it. Channeling my anger at the misconceptions, wrong beliefs and brainwash I, and my community members,  experience in Egypt, I write, I speak and I invite people to think.

A movement is what Fabulous Veils is. It isn’t a novel for people to read on a summer day while drinking a florida cocktail. It’s a call for action and reflection. It’s an appeal for a pause for evaluation. Our words and actions are powerful and they shape our fate and the fate of our children. We ought to slow down and think of how to treat them so that they become what they ought to be and could be.

Ignorance cannot lead to evil, misconceptions lead to evil.” – Leo Tolstoy

 

Are You Aware that You Aren’t Aware?

Labelling. How many labels were attached to you during the course of your living? Fat, stupid, shy, unorganised, mean..the examples are limitless. And sadly, most of us start getting labelled from our childhood.

After my latest service visit with a group of my students I went home with a ghosted mind. It wasn’t the poverty, the sicknesses or the horrible living conditions that shacked me this time. It was the frames.

My son was just telling me that he doesn’t care about the trip, all he wished for was to have his father alive,” the widow declared. Suppressing my tears and trying to balance between sounding strong and empathetic I asked: “What’s the relation between the trip and his father who passed away five years ago?” “The trip was organised to celebrate the ‘Orphans’ Day’. And he no longer wants to hear this word,” she explained. It was my first time to see it that way. I thought that labelling was limited to negative attributes people associate to us and we grow believing it’s our reality. What I never considered was that the reality itself might become a label which hurts, frustrates and angers us.

The nine-years-old boy’s story occupied the back of my mind for days. I caught myself many times thinking of him and his future. Growing up in a place where people would care for him because he’s an orphan and while he feels stabbed because of this reality, would he ever be able to find peace?

I started to think of Fatma, one of my main characters in Fabulous Veils. ‘The pirate’, her husband called her after she lost an eye due to his domestic violence. How did this label affect her? She never shared this part of her true story. Was she experiencing similar emotions like the orphan we visited? Would this word be the straw that breaks the camel’s back?

My action-oriented-mind started to wander. Sending letters to people in powerful positions was one of the ideas I got. Begging them to change the titles of the Orphans’ Day, the Mother’s Day, the Cancer Patients Day, the People with Disabilities Day and any title that would frame people’s minds and entrap their souls. “Labels distort people’s reality and create deformed versions of the beautiful human beings they were meant to become,” my inner voice shouted.

Are we aware of the impact of our words on others? Words, not labels, not insults, just words which we consider neutral while they aren’t? ‘Human’ would be the one label I would assign to a child, an adult, a day.. this is the way I choose to see others, my Fabulous Veils characters and my days on planet Earth.

Every human has something to offer this world; the question is will we create a society that can see everyone’s worth?” – Michael T. Coe

 

The Secret Behind Living ‘Happily Ever After’

A gem. Out of all the people I’ve encountered in my life she stood like a rare pearl. A shining lady in her sixties. Cheerful, happy and content. Always spreading a fragrance of positivity.

Listening to one of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ songs while watching the movie I thought of her. I remembered our conversation years ago when I was inquiring the secret behind her ever-lasting-happiness. “It’s love. My husband didn’t die. He’s with me all the time. I speak to him. I consult him. I feel him around me everywhere. I feel his love.” This wasn’t a sentence I heard in a Disney movie or I read in a fantasy-world-book. It’s the life lesson my uncle’s wife taught me while her eyes, body gestures and voice spoke with passion about the love of her life who had passed away years ago. Wow..! I remembered back then the words of Mitch Albom: “Life ends, love doesn’t.

How does a moment last forever?

Celine Dione’s voice tickled our senses in “Beauty and the Beast”, explaining how we must hold on to love. Never easy, but we try. We try to capture moments of happiness, we keep our love alive inside of our hearts.

And what about the moments of sadness?

Again, this tale with its songs fascinates me. It doesn’t detach us from reality. The lyrics clarify how we’ll pass through imperfect moments and how some memories won’t be sweet. And this in particular would be the secret behind living complete lives. How in the midst of our troubles love would flow like a river, protecting, persisting and persevering.

And because of our pure and beautiful love, our happiness will endure.

Where is Fabulous Veils from this love story?

To which extent my main character Gameela and her husband Sherif were able to hold on to love and keep the love story alive in their hearts? Their story is just an example for the ugly truth we’re currently experiencing in an era where divorce became so common, where freedom is associated with breaking ties of marriage and where people mockingly accuse marriage of becoming a love coffin.

Happiness is a choice. Love is a choice. Maurice, Belle’s father, chose to love his wife even after her death, keeping their love alive.  My uncle’s wife chose to live happily while her love was alive and after he passed away and during the many years of his serious sickness. She captured the sweet memories and persevered during the darkest moments. She’s living a complete life. Both couples were great role models for their children in the power of love, a love that stands through thick and thin.

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” Lao Tzu

 

Which of Belle’s 20 Character Traits Would Alter Our Lives?

While watching ‘Beauty and the Beast’ my mind drifted in a comparison between Belle and Gameela. The French Belle in the Disney story and the Egyptian Belle in Fabulous Veils, my novel. The two main characters were named ‘Beautiful’. They were normal girls and had love stories. However, the difference between their endings was as huge as the difference between a beautiful summer day and a dark winter night.

Belle’s 20 Character Traits

I’m one of Belle’s fans. Analysing her character, I identified twenty reasons:

1- She was deep.

She didn’t like Gaston like all the other girls. She was different.

2- She was straightforward.

She told him that they won’t make each other happy and that she will never marry him.

3- She was happy.

With the limited books available in her small village, she didn’t nag, complain or get annoyed. She was cheerful, smiling and singing.

4- She was passionate.

She kept reading the same books. Her passion for reading didn’t fade due to her limited resources.

5- She was ambitious.

She was longing for adventures, for a life more challenging than the one she lived.

6- She was clear.

About her dreams. She communicated them clearly, going out under the sky and asking for a different life. An adventurous one.

7- She was independent.

She went on her own to search for her father.

8- She was a giver.

She sacrificed herself for her old father.

9- She was a thinker.

She asked the Beast to show his face first in the lights. She did it before deciding to sacrifice herself.

10- She was proactive.

Trying to escape from the window. She didn’t surrender. She tried to change what she didn’t like.

11- She was bold.

Refusing to join the Beast for dinner and saying it out loud.

12- She was grateful.

For the Beast to rescue her, she told him she was grateful.

13- She was thankful. 

She took care of him to express her gratitude in a practical way.

14- She was patient.

She changed him gradually. She walked him out of the castle. Taught him how to approach the horse and how to play with snowballs.

15- She was understanding.

She didn’t expect from him to use the spoon. She found a way that would suit them both to eat the soup.

16- She was connected.

To her feelings. To herself. She noticed how she felt towards him.

17- She was receptive.

To his love. She noticed how he was changing. She didn’t label him as a ‘Beast’ and refused his offers. She accepted to dance with a Beast. She dressed up for a Beast.

18- She was loyal.

To her father. She was truly concerned. She remembered how everything she was was because of him and how he was the one who taught her to dance.

19- She was confident.

Whether in the village or at the Castle. She acted upon her free will. She wasn’t concerned with ‘what people would say’ or ‘how would the Beast react’.

20- She was true and honest.

With herself and others. And this one is my favourite of al!. She explained how she couldn’t be happy unless she was free.

This was the French Belle who tamed the Beast. Moving to Egypt, which character traits did Gameela lack? And why did her love story have such a different ending?

Gameela in ‘Fabulous Veils’ is inspired from a true story. The story of million Egyptian girls who ought to watch ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and learn from Belle if they are seeking happiness and longing to live a love story.

The best love is the kind that awakens the soul; that makes us reach for more, that plants the fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds.” ~ Noah – The Notebook

4 Lessons From ‘Beauty and The Beast’ 2017

Twenty six years had passed between the release of the animated ‘Beauty and the Beast’ in 1991 and the latest one released in 2017.  Watching the latter after becoming a mother, a novelist, a blogger and a Life-leadership Coach was quite an experience. It wasn’t a movie that I watched with my daughter to have some quality one-to-one time. I felt like taking many steps backward and watching the movie from a wider view, an analytical one. My mind started to compare the two versions. I mind mapped Belle’s character and observed closely what she did with the Beast.

What changed between the two versions..

Though there were several changes, four caught my attention:

1- Happiness

How can a person be happy without being free? Despite the magical world Belle was experiencing, her freedom came first. When the Beast tried to express his love, she made it clear that she can’t receive it as long as she wasn’t free. Though being in a castle, having all those books, feeling the Beast’s affection, being served and receiving limitless attention from all the castle’s inhabitants, she stayed true to herself knowing that her freedom was what mattered the most. It was fundamental to her happiness.

2- Help

In order to help the Beast after he was attacked by the wolves she asked him to help her. He had to help himself first to receive help. How fantastic! Exactly like I was taught in Coaching. People must be willing to help themselves or else no real change will take place.

3- Choice

People say bad things when they are angry, you can choose not to listen. Another time ‘How fantastic!’ They do. I do. Most of us do say bad things under anger that in many times we don’t really mean or that we would regret later. Our beloved ones can choose not to listen. We can choose not to listen when people are angry. It’s a choice. We have the freedom of choice.

4- Flexibility 

In eating the soup. She didn’t expect or try to change the Beast completely. She was firm with her freedom and flexible in other matters. She made a compromise not eating in a savage way and finding a way that suited them both.

 

Belle’s character..

Books. For many years I thought that this is why I admired Belle. For her love for books which we both share in common. This time I gave it a deeper thought and came out with twenty traits I admired in her, which I will be sharing in another article.

How Belle Tamed the Beast..

Reflecting on my novel, Fabulous Veils, this what Gameela, which means Belle in Arabic, failed to do. Belle and Gameela were normal girls. They weren’t princesses. They both fell in love. While Belle, by staying genuine and real, tamed the Beast and turned him into a prince, Gameela, with her submission, turned the engineer into a Beast…and at a very costly price; losing herself.

‘Beauty and the Beast’ remains my favourite Disney movie, whether animated or not. However, I did like the new version more with the deep messages embedded between the lines.

 

Are We Speaking a Comprehensible Love Language?

Love, is it a source of happiness or distress? Years ago I read that love was the reason behind them both. That if we analysed the main cause for people’s suffer and dig deeply we’ll figure out that it’s due to lack of love.

In a previous article on Self-love I quoted Oprah’s words: “Your life is a journey of learning to love yourself first and then extending that love to others in every encounter.” This time I quote her same words while focusing on ‘extending that love to others”. 

How to Extend Love to Others?

Though we’re social beings, in our formal education we might have been taught how to develop social skills, how to work in teams, how to show respect for others, yet we’re never taught how to extend our love, how to express it.

Gary Chapman, in his book ‘The Five Love Languages’, explains that: “Psychologists have concluded that the need to feel loved is a primary human emotional need. Child psychologists affirm that every child has certain basic emotional needs that must be met if he is to be emotionally stable. Among these emotional needs, none is more basic than the need for love and affection. With an adequate supply of affection, the child will likely develop into a responsible adult. Without that love, he or she will be emotionally and socially retarded.

The Five Love Languages…

In his bestselling book Chapman introduced five ways to express our love to others, to fill their ‘love tanks’, to fulfil their most basic need. Our choice for the language won’t be based on the one we prefer or we master, it’ll be based on the language our beloved ones prefer and need. The languages are:

1- Words of affirmation

2- Quality time

3- Gifts

4- Acts of Service

5- Physical touch

Speaking the Wrong Language..

To fill people’s emotional love tanks, it’s essential to use their own language. Imagine someone speaking to you Chinese while you can only speak French and English, would you be able to comprehend his message? The same goes for love. The message won’t be received.

In my novel, Fabulous Veils, the three main characters loved their daughters, however, they were unable to fill their emotional love tanks. They spoke incomprehensible languages. Had they communicated with them, asked them how they needed to be loved, which language they preferred, not only the novel would have taken a different detour, their destinies would have altered too. They would have likely developed into responsible stable adults.