A Tribute To My Master.

Today marks the closure of a great chapter in my life. Someone very dear and close to my heart, left Bahrain today.  A mentor, a Chinese Martial Art Master (even though she doesn’t like to be referred to as such), a mother, a friend, and a role model. Shao Nian Bates, her Chinese name means: “Youngster”, and in the Chinese culture the name is strongly linked to being a traveler to all 4 corners of the world. A name that she carries well, since she has been to all 4 corners of the world, physically and metaphorically.

 

I have known Shao after I moved to Bahrain and since then her presence in my life has been vital. I saw her every morning at 6am, we trained together, we drank tea together, we told each other stories, we ate together, we watched people joining the studio and witnessed them leave, and today I, here alone, am witnessing HER departure.

Every time I was sick, she would rush to her kitchen, prepare some kind of herbal tea, warn me of how sour and undrinkable it is, then hands it to me, while telling me all about the benefits of the herbs in it. Every time I told her things that were bothering me, she would tell me a story similar to mine, and give me, unintentionally, an example to follow. Every time I wanted to learn a new form she would tell me that I didn’t need to, and that I have learned enough, yet she would cave in, and teach me some more. Some mornings she would tell me that I looked beautiful in whichever color I was wearing, some other days she would say: “Hmm those colors don’t look good together”, yes she was brutal like this, she would never say something unless she means it 100%. The first day I met her she almost sounded rude to me, but the force led me to go again and again and again, and every time I sat with her, and learned about her, I loved her even more. Then she gave me a book she wrote about her life, and that was the turning point in our relationship! A woman who served in General Mao’s camps, who found her way into learning a new language and even writing in that new language, she did the unthinkable and left China, she faced life’s hardships in bulks, not one or two, like me and you, but way more than what one can handle in a lifetime. She built houses and businesses, she traveled around the world, met many many interesting people. She experienced the other side of the pink rosy world, she lost money, friends, family, and survived it all quietly and humbly.

When I met her I was 21 years old, a little girl, who knew nothing about life. I looked at her with wide eyes and a dropped jaw every time she told a story. To me she was the most interesting person I have met in my whole life, 10 years later, she still is! Now I wonder whether the universe has sent her my way to teach and guide me in a time when I knew nothing, and now that I have seen, lived and experienced a little more, it was time for her to leave. Now that I have matured enough to be able to live on my own, it was time for her to move, and probably go nurture another soul somewhere else.

 

What always impresses me in this magnificent woman, is that even though she is 70 years old, not a minute goes by where she isn’t learning a new thing. Her moto in life is: “if they can do it, I too can do it”. She lived and still lives her life to the fullest, she doesn’t waste a minute worrying about life, or entertaining any negative energy, or simply doing nothing.

We went to many breakfasts, lunches and dinners, we laughed and cried, we talked freely and openly about anything and everything. She was my companion, more than she was my teacher. We celebrated birthdays, Eids, house-warming parties, Ramadans, and many more events together. We also shared a passion together, which is taking pictures! Boy did we take pictures! She is the kind of person, to whom you can tell your deepest, darkest secret to, and she would just sit there looking, listening and simply fully present. She took care of everyone, she knew what everyone liked and what they didn’t like, she was a mother to all!

 

We both shared the same Chinese horoscope: Tiger, and we were very similar in so many ways. We are both fierce, stubborn, faithful, and honest. We both loved tea and drank tons of it. We both loved reading. So some mornings, instead of training, we would just sit, drink tea, and talk about books.

 

We both experienced life’s ups and downs together, we both made mistakes together, we both saw how life can unfold. She knew me as a little girl, and now she is leaving a strong, woman behind, a wife, and a mother.

 

In the 31 years that I have lived, I have been blessed with many motherly figures in my life, beside my wonderful mama. I have shared and connected with many older women, and learned so much from them. I always became friends with my friends’ mothers, and that’s because I have an old soul, yet somehow they all seem to vanish and disappear at some point of my life. Somehow it is as if they are on a mission, and once the mission is done, they leave. I have said way too many goodbyes in my life, and somehow I got so used to the idea that all the people I meet come into my life for a purpose, and once it’s done, they will leave. Seeing friends leave is always sad, and even though I truly believe that the universe always has a plan for you, yet this time, it’s a bit harder and a little more life changing. I am not only saying goodbye to a friend, I am closing a whole chapter in my life, and getting ready to open a new one.

 

So to Shao: You are taking a piece of my soul with you, I know that we will meet again, if it is not in this life, then in the next one. I will not promise to send you emails and pictures, updating you with what’s new every once in a while, simply because I know that won’t happen, yet I promise you that in my heart you will always have a beautiful, and very special place.

From Ouiam with Love…..

Do You Love Yourself Enough?

How many times have you skipped lunch/ dinner, because you are too busy or too tired to eat? How many times have you deprived yourself from something you really wanted, because of your child? How many times have you pressed the pause button in your life, in order to be a good mother?How many times have smuggled food into the bathroom, so you can eat peacefully? How many times have you left the house with no make up or perfume on, because instead, you chose to wipe butts and have long conversations with tiny horrible bosses. How many times have you cried alone in the middle of the night because your kid just wouldn’t sleep?  I personally have done so much of the above and I am sure you have too.  Someone once described motherhood to me like the oxygen masks in airplanes. Always in the safety demonstration they say that you should put on your OWN mask first, then put your child’s, because if you are not alive you will not be able to save your child; and I couldn’t agree more.   

 

In order to put that mask tightly, you need to know yourself well. You need to speak to yourself with love and love only, you need to value yourself even if no one else does, you need to respect and cherish who you are. To love yourself doesn’t mean to be self-absorbed or narcissistic, it just means that you treat yourself like you want to be treated, that you don’t doubt yourself. It means to forget about any form of self-loathing, and to be able to put yourself as a priority in your own life and not always on the bottom of the list.

 

To love yourself is to know what makes you happy and go for it, be it an hour alone, or a cup of tea with friends, or a relaxing bath. To love yourself is to take care of yourself, exercise, eat healthy, be creative, laugh, and make sure you are living and not just being. You need to know how to satisfy your own needs before you tend to anyone else’s.  At times this might sound like a luxury that you can’t afford, and that’s when you need to practice your fundamental right in this life! ASK FOR HELP! I learnt in the last couple of years that some people are always there for you and are ready to help you whenever you need help. I also learnt that if someone says NO to you, it is not the end of the world, that is probably just the beginning of the journey, and that the amount of NOs that you will hear in your life does not and will not define who you are. So yes honor and respect yourself, don’t wait for anyone else to do it for you! Don’t be the first one to wake up and the last one to sleep EVERYDAY, don’t cancel your plans because the house is messy and needs to be cleaned, don’t allow anyone to treat you as a possession or take you for granted. Love yourself when you wake up in the morning and when you see yourself in the mirror. Love yourself when you allow yourself to breath no matter how hectic the day gets. Just remember:  To survive, you need to put YOUR oxygen mask on first!

 

Ouiam

Let Your Children Fight Their Own Battles.


There is no doubt that contemporary parenting has become a minefield. With the peer pressure we all encounter as parents, parenting has become this huge competition, where each and every parent wants to do the “right thing”, go by the “book”, and raise their children to be the smartest and most brilliant kids of all times. Of course we all do it out of love, after all these little creatures are pieces of our hearts and souls.  All we want to do is love them, protect them and give them the best we can for them to grow and become responsible, kind, and happy human beings.  Yet what we tend to forget most of the time is that children are not our property, nor are they a trophy, they are these tiny human beings, who are trying to find their own way every single day. They just embarked in this crazy journey and with time they are developing the skills needed to be able to sail freely and smoothly. We are there to GUIDE them and to make sure they acquire the necessary tools to build their personalities, characters, and their own opinions. The trick is to decide when to step in and when to back off, and this is where most parents go wrong. As parents we are automatically wired to make these little minds and hearts avoid pain, sadness and sorrow at all costs. We can’t stand the thought that our little one is going through a hard time, through pain and suffering, so we get up and do whatever we can to skip that part and make them think that they live in a flawless pink world, filled with rainbows and unicorns. While this is not necessary a bad thing, but if done all the time, it robs the children the chance to live their own life, to fight their own battles. Letting them live their life to the fullest even at a young age, can be tremendously beneficent, it can teach them problem-solving skills, it can teach them to be confident and to love themselves, which is the key to having happy kids.

 

By giving the child a voice, you are arming them with the tools needed to build confidence and self-esteem for the future. When he learns that no matter what, he is the master of his own destiny you are giving him the chance to stand up for himself and face the consequences of his choices. By taking responsibility of his own acts you are also teaching him that he is worthy of your trust yet he is also accountable for his acts.

 

As a mother, this might be just about the most difficult thing on earth! Seeing your sweet little child in tears over something that you can fix in a second…. Man it’s hard! You just have to remind yourself everyday that you will not interfere and that you will let your child fight his own battles but you will still show him that you love him no matter what and that you’re there for him.

 

Letting your child go through their own heartbreaking experiences, pain and suffering might be the greatest gift you could ever offer them.

 

Ouiam

Because You Are Awesome..!

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Somebody told me today that I inspire them…..and the first thought that came to my mind was: “No freaking way! I can’t be inspiring, I am just an ordinary person, leading an ordinary life”. I had to repeat those words few times to realise that something was very wrong with that reasoning of mine! The words didn’t resonate well with the symphony of my brain. A red flag popped up, a loud beep disturbed the serenity of my mind! Why am I underestimating myself? Why can’t I just say: “Oh Thank you!” and tell myself: “Yes I am!!”. It seems like we judge ourselves so harshly, that we can’t even accept compliments anymore! It is not about being humble and modest, it is almost like we don’t want to believe that we are good, great, fantastic, wonderful human beings! We have a very hard time accepting that we are good-great- at what we do! Here, I wouldn’t take the blame alone, I’ll have to say that this must be related to the pressure we receive from our environment , with the illusion of perfectionism that invaded our lives and homes. Everybody wants to be perfect, because the community we live in has made us believe that in order to survive, we need to be perfect. We want to be perfect because everybody else is perfect (or at least trying to show us that they are!). We want to be perfect because this is the norm, because we have to, we must be perfect! Perfect mothers, perfect wives, perfect daughters, perfect friends…etc. We are killing ourselves trying so hard to be the best at everything, and it never seems to satisfy us, the more we do the more we need to do! Please don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being perfect, but there is nothing wrong with being just OK too! We should be able to look at ourselves in the mirror and smile,  give ourselves a pat in the shoulder or a high five, and say: “Well Done!”. We should be able to smile and say Thank you, when someone gives us a compliment! We should be able to give compliments to other people too, and tell the wonderful people in our lives that they inspire us, without feeling threatened or insecure, just like the beautiful person I talked to this morning did!

 

Actually this whole day was a lesson, an eye opener for me! Just few hours before I got that incredibly sweet compliment, I met a very sweet lady, who looked me in the eye and said: “I think I am not a good mother!”. My hear sank and I felt tears rushing down! No MOTHER EVER should say these words! NEVER! Every mother is doing a great job, no matter what the society say! You nurtured that little angel 9 months inside of you, you bared childbirth and your body did the most magnificent thing ever! You breastfed that little miracle, you woke up every two hours for a year or two or three…! That is more than enough for you to be “mother of the year” every single year! that is by definition, the greatest thing in the world! You are a good mother, you are a great mother and no one should ever make you feel anything but that!

 

So please everyone reading this post, please do me a favor, when someone gives you a compliment, smile, node, say Thank you, and accept it… believe it! Because you deserve it! To the mothers reading this, please DO NOT let anyone shame you, or make you feel guilty in any possible way! You are awesome and you should know it! Who cares if someone out there doesn’t agree? Who cares really? Remember… smile, nod and say Thank you! Because you deserve it!

 

Ouiam

I Am A Horrible Feminist And Proud Of IT

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I always loved to cook. I always took joy in cleaning and doing chores. I eagerly learnt how to sew and knit from my mother long time ago. I love make up, dresses, shoes, bags and anything to do with fashion. Taking care of my husband gives me an immense pleasure. Putting clean, fresh clothes in cupboards fulfills my senses. Staying at home, taking care of my son is a blessing that I am forever thankful for. So in other words: I am a horrible feminist and I am proud of it!

 

Yes, I am educated, and aware that we are in the 21st century. I realize that in a way I am no different than my mother or grandmother, and this doesn’t bother me, because I know I also spend a lot  of time reading, writing, taking courses, listening to podcasts, and doing lots of early morning Taichi and Qigong. I work hard to expend my creativity and productivity, and cooking or cleaning does no harm to this process! To me being a great wife, mother, daughter, and friend, goes hand in hand with being a feminist! I am strong enough to be building the next generation on great values and raising my kids to be kind, smart, and to become productive members in their community. I am strong enough to hold my family together and make sure everyone is fed, dressed, and well rested! I am strong enough to witness the blossoming of the girl/woman in me. I am strong enough to not want to be equal to a man! Yes, you read it correctly! I am not equal to a man! I admit it and I actually enjoy it! I gave birth to a soon-to be man, whom I hope to be a great one just like his father. My mother gave birth to two amazing sons who grew up to be successful, smart and very kind men! We are half of the population and we give birth to the other half, so do the math! Can we ever be equal? And why should it matter anyway?? I never do anything without taking my husband’s advice, does that make me any less of a woman? I don’t think so! He is my other half and I trust him and his wise judgment. He does the same too, does it make him any less of a man? Of course not! I am also aware that there are tasks that I can’t perform so I leave them to him, and I am so grateful that he is always happy to help. I would probably go crazy if on top of all the things I have to do, I had to change the light bulbs, or take my car for the annual service, or any of the other MANLY tasks. In our household we both believe that some things are meant to be done by men and others by women, and it works amazingly!

 

Pink is not my favorite color, but I have no problem with girls/women who like pink, or take tons of selfies, or never leave the house without make-up and heals, or go for manicures and pedicures every other day. I am one of them, and to me they are enjoying themselves, they are being feminine, and enjoying their FEMINISM!

 

Why do we always link feminism to men? Or to being the worst version of ourselves? Why destroy the beautiful image that our mothers and grandmothers built through out the years? Why can’t we enjoy being who we are; it most definitely doesn’t stop us from being smart, educated, wise, strong, ……. etc.

 

My grandmother asked for a divorce when she was 25,  in a time when this wasn’t acceptable in her community. She did so because her husband wanted to take a second wife. She took the pressure and all the hardships that followed her decision with an open heart. She went through it all, while cooking for her daughters, cleaning her house, sewing clothes for her kids…. etc. So you see, you can be a great feminist while still being feminine. The two go in parallel together. You don’t have to drop your feminine side to be a feminist, you don’t have to stop shaving or start showing up naked, or fight with everyone who says breastfeeding is too much nudity! You can be exactly who you are, who you were destined to be, a pretty girl (and when I say pretty I don’t mean the face, but also the mind!).

 

So yes, I am a proud horrible feminist, and I intend to be this way for the rest of my life.

 

Ouiam

 

The Untold Stories Of Motherhood…. 

  

It has been almost two years since I embarked in this wonderful journey of motherhood, it is kind of hard to believe, because it feels like I gave birth just few months ago, but yeah! 21months have passed since the day I officially became a mother. And boy what a journey has it been! See, when you get pregnant, people around you feel the need to warn you…! Warn you about tons of things, like the sleepless nights, or the absence of any “Me” time, or they might even strike a little harder and tell you that your life will never be the same again. You smile, you nod, you might get scared a little, but you know that YOU will do it differently… Not because you know what they are talking about… Hell how would you know? This is only your first child! But because it is simply YOU!

What no one warns you about is the huge responsibility placed on your hands. The midnight crises from all the exhaustion and the great amount of hormones who make it their mission to make your life a great sad movie! The stress on your marriage from all the pressure of those sleepless nights! The amount of invitations you will have to decline for the next god knows how long! The friends who will silently leave your life because you are no longer available for them all the time. The little horror scenes at the grocery stores, where you will try every trick you know of, to get that little one to stop his little tantrum! The list is painfully long but no one chooses to break the news to you, instead they give you small hints and invite you to see for yourself. 

They also never tell you about the wonderful moments that you will choose to lock and keep somewhere safe for when those little ones are not so little anymore! They never tell you what it is to have your heart outside your body, moving, walking and running. They never tell you the magic that kids bring into your life! The joy one can get from a smile, hug or kiss. The beauty of life when you have a little one depending on you, knowing and wanting only you! The little hands and feet, the gibberish talk and the toothless smiles! The pride you take when he learns new things! The love… Oh the love! You never ever knew your heart was capable of loving this much, this way! Your heart will burst at the end of each day, and grow a little bigger the next, to make room for more love for that little human being! No one tells you that kids are god’s gift to you, so you can relive your childhood, so you can do what you never had a chance to do when you were a kid, or even when you grew up to be the adult you are now! You see the sun clearer, you admire the shape of rocks, you stop each time you see an ant, you gasp every time you see a star, you walk slower, you laugh harder, you see, hear, smell, touch everything differently! You follow your child’s footsteps and you go along in their slow rhythm! Every time your hand holds that tiny hand, it is an unwritten promise you make to protect your child and keep him safe from every harm! Every day you wake up and hear the little voice mumbling, you thank god for all the blessings! No one tells you about any of these things because no one can ever describe them the way they should be described. No one can ever explain to you what is it to be a mother, and even if someone some day will, you will never ever grasp the real meaning until a piece of your soul comes out of you and becomes your whole life! 

Motherhood is the untold story of sacrifice and bravery! It isn’t for the faint hearted, nor for the empty souls. It is the sacred gift to women…! Women.. These great creatures who in a world bathed in a stuttery glow, make magic gracefully appear! 

Ouiam

What’s On Her Mind: Is There Such A Thing As Guilt Free Motherhood

  
What’s On Her Mind number two yaay..! I already love this feature so much and I have so many more amazing women to share their stories, with all of you in the upcoming months. Awesome..!! 
This week a wonderful mama will be sharing with all of us, her words of wisdom. Be sure to check her blog and say hello! So I will leave you with What’s On Her Mind…..

Is there such a thing as Guilt free Motherhood?

The moment you embark on the journey of motherhood, you are made to feel guilty. Guilty for the conscious decisions you make for the betterment of your child. Proven guilty by society or proven guilty by the devil inside your mind. 

The society we live in has all sorts of opinions on what the “done” thing is, whether it be breastfeeding, formula feeding, co-sleeping, self-soothing, being a working mother or a stay at home mother. There are all sorts, isn’t there, but the worst culprit is probably yourself. The mummy guilt that exudes from within is always there. Though we very well known that the mother’s gut instinct is right and also what we should follow, sometimes we end up second-guessing ourselves about our parental decisions. 
These decisions cause so much worry. Am I being too strict to my toddler? Am I giving him a balanced enough meal? Is he reaching all his development milestones at the right age? Am I spending enough time with him? Am I cuddling him enough? Are his toys enriching his developmental skills? Am I encouraging him enough to socialise with other children? Am I not teaching him about stranger danger early enough? Am I reading him enough books each night? I could go on and on but these are some of the thoughts I have on an almost daily basis, and boy is it difficult. 
Of course, my little 15 month old is a healthy happy boy, who walks and babbles away, eating imaginary food with his plastic bowl and spoon, and I know as a mother I have succeeded thus far. However, sometimes we simply need to take a step back from the overwhelming responsibility of motherhood and give ourselves a pat on the back for what we have achieved. Whether you have only been a mother for a day or for a century, if you care enough about your child to worry about them, then you are already doing a great job. I learnt early on that no amount of research was going to teach me how to carry out motherhood; it simply had to be done. Done with an insane amount of patience and endless amount of love. The guilt is just part of the learning curve that mothers go through each day, and needs to be handled accordingly. 
Have I got rid of the mummy guilt? Definitely not. Will I ever be rid of it? Perhaps never. But I sure can take steps towards reducing it and being more confident of my decisions for my child, and I urge all other parents to do the same. So is there such a thing as guilt free motherhood? I believe not. Yet we can take days off when we can look at our offspring and give ourselves a high-five for being a brilliant parent. Before wondering whether you gave them enough cheese to fulfil the GDA dairy quota…

Zeyna 

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