A Letter to my future teenage kids

If you ever come asking: “Mom, how can I make my friends like me?” my only answer will be: “by never seeking their approval.” We are nice because being nice is an obligation, it’s something we, your parents and teachers, have worked day and night to instill in you. But to go out of your way just to fit in and be a part of a certain group: the cool folks, the elitists, the sports squad, the cheerleaders, the debate club, that’s never going to guarantee an everlasting friendship. Take it from your mother, the only friendships that have stood the test the time are those in which I felt loved, accepted and even celebrated for my individuality. Sure, they thought I was crazy at times, and literally had to pull me out of my shell at others, but we made it through the decades. At our time, nobody really cared whether you had thousands of followers and your social media content went viral. We saw the change each one of us could make, we wished each other well, we cheered each other on, we had each others’ backs, we were sincerely connected by the heart. We never needed an internet connection to maintain a friendship running that deep. Try to make at least one everlasting friendship, kids. Find friends whom you can connect with spiritually and mentally. Don’t melt in a crowd and wonder why you’re constantly feeling anxious, dissatisfied and depressed. Be people connectors, not just people collectors. Someday you’ll understand that rebels don’t spend their time at middle and high school breaking rules and having parties. It takes more to be a rebel. It takes a person who’s not afraid of being called crazy or weird for trying to live by their own terms. That’s a spirit that can’t be tamed.

~Z.

Insomniac

Night falls, I lay my head to sleep

Then the sedating silence is broken 

As thoughts begin to creep

Guilt calls, saying “It’s been a while

That we haven’t gone over failures,

Or the memories you had as a child”

Sleep’s gone, and so has the peace

If only our thought patterns had a switch

I’d turn off the anxieties

I’d rest my head on that pillow

And dive into a sea of tranquility

And while this body is weary

I can’t meet its simple needs

Because the heart is roaming freely

And the mind’s agenda impedes

Sleep is a necessity

Only when there’s nothing to miss 

When there’s no inspiration to guide you

Through a world of writing bliss

Sometimes I envy the oblivious

Who are not shaken or stirred

Their hearts are void of anguish

Their heads are void of words

That they must unload like baggage

Too heavy to carry around

If only I were just as unaware

If only the world just passed me by

Without a trace, without a sound

Anxiety: Poem & Facts

They say anxious people
Have a head full of dreams
But let me tell you
Anxiety is not all what it seems
It’s not butterflies in your stomach
Or a rush of blood to your head
It’s a thousand pounding drums in your chest
The stuttering, muttering, mumbling
Of words your lips can’t expel
The beads of sweat breaking out on your brow
Then trickling down your cheek
Anxiety is desperately trying
To look strong when you’re undeniably weak
“I’m calm, I’m in control”
“I can do this” … No, no, no
“I’m not worthy at all”
And in between all your “what ifs”
You realize anxiety is just a thief
Stealing your joys, grinning slyly
As it jumps off your window
Breathe, breathe…
Every day you have a choice
Walk out of the house
Leaving your agitation by the door
Or collapse, curl up in a corner
And watch your teardrops splatter on the floor
Anxiety is not a flustered irritable being
It’s a person who may be worth knowing
A naked soul you wouldn’t blush when seeing
A heart wide open peeking through a trembling body
You can’t see all the quivering and shaking
You see, anxiety is often invisible
With all the colossal efforts a person is making
To stand tall, and say the right things
Which they often don’t, by the way
So if they choose to remain silent
Just know it’s for your own sake
It takes courage to love them
And more courage to keep this love awake
It’s hard work, confusing, perplexing,
But loving an anxious person may just be
the best mistake you’ll ever make
~ Zeina
 
******************
 
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness, they include: panic attacks, certain phobias, obsessive-complusive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorders, amongst others.
 
Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment.They develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.
 
Many people with an anxiety disorder also have a co-occurring disorder or physical illness, which can make their symptoms worse and recovery more difficult. It’s essential to be treated for both disorders.
 
Source: Anxiety and Depression Association of America
 
#endthestigma
 

5 things that parenting is NOT

Ah, parenting…the most exalted, most exhausting job ever. Bringing a child into this world is perhaps one goal we all seek to achieve at some point in our lives, but once we have this child our whole existence is changed. It’s very normal to feel frustrated, overwhelmed and even shocked at how parenting is nothing like what we had imagined it to be growing up. Who would have thought that dinner time, bath time and bed time would be so nerve-wracking at times? In our imagination we only pictured our little ones to be perfectly-behaved, obedient, sweet angels (not that they are not). Reality hits hard sometimes, doesn’t it? But wait, we’re NOT heading down desperation lane with this post. There’s hope, there’s always hope when it comes to how much we love our children. After all, when we are tired, wired and at our wit’s end, it’s only because we want things to go our way and they’re not. Those expectations of an ideal parent-child relationship are simply standing between us and our kids, keeping us from bonding with them the way we had hoped. 

What are we doing wrong? Why isn’t parenting as rewarding as the media portrays it? Why are some parents more fulfilled than others, you may think? Because we often conceive parenting as a set of rules and theories that apply to ALL children. We’ve been socially trained to follow the footsteps of our predecessors in raising our young disregarding the ever-changing environment we expose them to. As a mother of both a boy and a girl living in a modern city, under normal circumstances, I can’t help but observe those fast-paced changes and worry about my children’s future. Will I be able to raise healthy, kind, loving, well-rounded individuals? Just thinking about this grave responsibility makes me hyperventilate! But I know one thing I had to learn the hard way. Parenting doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with a child, a unique child whom you’ll learn to understand as much as you’ve already loved. It takes time. And you’ll get there. In this post I’d like to share what I’ve learned so far in my 8-year-long motherhood journey. I’ve summarized all the irksome, worrisome, troublesome parts of my parenting experience, which you may pretty much relate to. So here are 5 things which are NOT parenting. 

1. Parenting is not a race or a competition: I know, it’s tempting to compare notes with other parents, gather experiences and share advice but once you feel that you’re really failing at this thing called parenting because you’re not doing what other parents are doing, you need to stop. We’re not competing. We’re in this together. And if you ever feel that you can’t handle any more braggers, just keep your distance, there’s no guilt or shame in choosing what’s best for your kids, AND your well-being. 

2. Parenting is a means not a goal: you know that cheesy proverb that says “happiness is not a destination, it’s a way of life.” Well that also applies to parenting. Instead of worrying about accomplishing milestones and checking off lists, just enjoy every moment you get to spend with your kids. Your presence and role-modeling is enough of an accomplishment. So if you don’t get them to stick to a routine within a week, that’s really OK. Be consistent, yet flexible. Firm yet understanding. The last thing your kids want is to feel their home is more of a military camp than a cozy atmosphere to learn, grow, and just be themselves. 

3. Parenting is not self-sacrifice: We’re always told that fully-dedicated moms are the best moms. Can you imagine how depressing this statement may be for working moms? Why is motherhood always portrayed in such an overly idealistic light? Please stop feeling constantly guilty for excluding your kids in some activities you pursue on your own or with your spouse. It’s perfectly acceptable to want some time for yourself to recharge. Your kids will thank you the most for being a happy, well-adjusted, and outrageously creative parent.  

4. Parenting challenges don’t get easier with time: you know what we parents don’t need along the way? Illusions. But negating the statement that things won’t be getting easier is not…”negative” (does that make sense?)  Actually, it’s not the parenting challenges that will get better, but you’ll be a more equipped parent to handle those ever-increasing challenges. Yes, sadly every phase of parenting has its glitches, but trust me, you’ll nail them. There will be tough days, tear-jerking incidents, and lots and lots of self-doubt along the way, but you’ll be ok. Really! Negativity, busted! 

5. Parenting is not all what you are: when they placed that bundle of cuteness in your arms, you instantly realized that nothing in your life will ever go back to the way it was before. But this doesn’t mean you’ll have to adopt a new personality as a protective, superheroic parent. Regardless of whether the kiddos believe mommy and daddy have superpowers or not, mommy and daddy are (Your name) and (Spouse’s name) first and foremost. Your interests, needs, likes and dislikes should never be affected by your responsibility as parents. In reference to point 3, keep those parts of you alive – for sanity’s sake at least. Avoid falling into the trap of begrudging the single life. 

So whether you think you’re doing this parenting thing all wrong and can’t help but feel lonely and isolated at times, you’re actually never alone in this. Loving someone who is totally dependent on you in their first few years can be quite scary. But have faith in this love and your strength as a caregiver, mentor and protector of this child. You were made for this, and this child is exactly the way he or she is supposed to be. If you can remember to parent the child you have, not the child you always wanted, you’ll succeed in every level of this parenting game, with a little help from them, believe it or not 🙂 

Happy parenting! 

~ Zeina

Cry, little girl

Hello, little girl

It’s been a while since we’ve talked

It’s been a while since we’ve walked

Down that old road

I guess we’d both forgotten

What it’s like to have fun

All those dreams never got old

How did we lose touch?

I wish I could have been there

To tell you you were loved so much

To let you know that someone cared

Burdens you carried for long

Tears you never showed

You held them back but now

It’s time to let it go

Cry, cry, little girl

You’re only a child

One day you’ll grow

And those memories will subside

You’ve been your own hero

Written your own fate

But cry, cry, little girl

Growing up can wait

Tightrope

Life is a lot like walking on a tightrope
Spread your arms apart 

As if you’re going to fly

Never look back or down

Keep your eyes on the sky

Watch your step, tread with hope

Your heart races at the thrill

Wind in your face, breathe the chill

They said you’d fall 

But look at you, you never will

Determination is your wing

Love is the song you yearn to sing

Keep your head high

Though their words could sting

Your dream is waiting on the other side

Gather your strength, it’s a few more steps

Pull yourself together, you don’t need help

Just brush your fears aside

Look up to the sky, don’t slip

Don’t stand on your toe tips 

You got to put your foot down 

Someday you’ll see who’s worth the ride

Almost there, that’s the end of the rope

Tell me, did you see what you hoped to find? 

On raising happy daughters

Every night when you tuck your daughters in, tell them how much you love them. Tell them they’re amazing. Tell them there’s nothing in the world they can’t do if they put their minds to it. Tell them they can count on your acceptance and trust you with their problems. If they come crying to you, listen to them, validate their emotions. Silly things don’t make people cry. If they think their noses are too big, their hips are too wide, their lips are too thin, they’re fat, they’re ugly…hug them tight and tell them everyone is beautiful in their own way and that what matters most is the beauty of their minds and the gratitude in their hearts. Never ever tell them that if they don’t like their features they can have plastic surgery when they’re older. A nose job never made anyone happy. There are many beautiful women out there with the most broken hearts. Mothers, your words are of great influence on your little girls. As role models, you need to put your own insecurities aside when you address your daughters’ insecurities. Let your strength reflect on their thoughts and behavior. Let your kindness embrace their sweet tender hearts. The hardest part about raising a daughter is convincing her to just be herself in a world that seeks to teach her otherwise; nurturing her self-esteem is challenging indeed in an age where the fashion brands you wear define how likable or cool or rich you are. There will be days when she’ll feel so alone, confused, and indecisive. Be that someone she runs to. Your daughter would never choose anyone else over you if she knows you’re the only one who will understand. So make every moment count. Enjoy those little talks, the endless questions, the laughs, giggles and yes, the power struggles that never seem to end. They will be merely memories in a few years. Be sure that she will be as happy as you ever liked her to be by just carrying the best of those memories, and upon recalling those encouraging words you once said. The best way to raise a daughter is not to tell her she can be just as good as any boy, nor that she needs one to grant her happiness. Raising a happy girl always, always starts with a happy mom.
#to_my_daughter 

#my_happiness_for_theirs

#bonding
Love, 

~ Zeina

I’ll be your feather

Pass this message to a woman who needs to be told that she’s good enough

We, women of the world, have forgotten that
We were made for more than this
We were taught that women are born “without wings”
That we were powerless, helpless, weak creatures
And that we should look for someone to lean on, almost like a crutch, a wheelchair, as if we were disabled!
someone who can take us places and show us things, someone to be our eyes, ears and voice
But then one day, we made a great discovery,
we found ourselves…and we liked it
We liked it so much that we wanted to show the whole world
Just how happy we are with this “self-love”, with ourselves
We realized that in order for this love to grow we need to do so many things
Then somehow we got addicted to nurturing it, growing it, boasting it through “achieving” more
Everyday I notice how hard women try to achieve something
I observe their idealism, their perfectionism
Just one struggle after another
A struggle to get things done, a struggle to make things happen,
A struggle to have a career, be an ideal parent, a perfect housewife, a loving partner, to be there for everybody, motivate, succeed and excel,
A struggle to compete and defeat…who…other women? men?
How can this be “self-love”? How can you love yourself so much and want to prove this to anybody?
Why do you need anyone to approve of you?
How can you say that you love yourself for who you are when you can’t even handle criticism? When you must work that hard to prove someone wrong, or meet expectations?
I want you to take a moment and think …
Are you a mom? a sister? a wife? a daughter? a CEO?
a student? a social worker? a doctor? a scientist? an artist? a designer?
I’m here to tell you that you don’t need anyone to tell you “You are doing great”
“You are wonderful”
But if you must hear it and I know you want to, you are…
not because of what you have achieved, but for simply trying
Trying to make life a little better, trying to ease someone’s pain, trying to raise balanced children, trying to show kindness and compassion, trying to perform your duties, trying to love those who don’t show you love
You are trying, and that’s enough
So you if you love yourself, you should know that you are enough
you are good enough, pretty enough, strong enough
And
Thank you. I know nobody says this often but thank you
I’d like you to thank someone else today, maybe your mom, your sister, your bestie, your dentist, any woman you know
Who’s battling self-doubt or low self-esteem
Tell them you’re grateful for who they are
Tell them you love them for who they are
Tell them that even though you may have had differences, you will try to be more understanding
Pass this message on because we women need each other
We were made for more than achieving personal goals
We were made to help one another, raise one another and defend one another
Put those differences aside and learn to empower one another
There’s more to life than bad blood, competitions and showdowns
And if we really do need “wings” to fly, I’ll be your feather

An empowered hijabi

You’d think that I’m oppressed

From the way that I’m dressed

But I’ve never been more free

And no, I’m not indoctrinated

Just like the media propagated

All those twisted images of me

Like why I’d need a piece of cloth to protect me

Or how I’m victimized by a patriarchal ideology

In a time when first world women still fight to be liberated

In societies charged with bigotry, sure I’d be slated

But I’m an empowered hijabi

It makes no difference to me

Whether I’m loved or hated

Head high, I walk through life

single, married, mother, daughter, sister, wife

if there’s one thing I’ve done right

It’s that I’ll always take pride

In my identity

The tides are high, but I hold on tight

In this darkness I still find the light

that will save humanity

I believe so firmly that words can’t shake me

You can try to drag me down, but you can’t make me

There’s more to emancepation

than wearing whatever you please

 But if that’s what it’s about

Tell me, why can’t I have this opportunity?

It’s as if my scarve is threatening national security

While fearmongering misogynists are out there spreading peace!

Can someone please explain this shameless hypocrisy?

Why it’s ok for a woman to wear less but not more?

It’s about time we let women’s dress code be

And focus on her strengths, intelligence, and capabilities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to write a suicide letter

Have you got your pen and paper ready? Your take-your-own-life device? Wait, you haven’t planned how you were going to do it yet? Ok, never mind. Let’s just write the letter. 

Dear —- (that’s gonna be the first loved one to find out you why you did such an major act, so they’ve got to be special)

Explain your terrible state prior to the act. Use words such as tired, fed up, exhausted, worn out, beat up. Don’t be afraid to use exaggerations and hyperboles, afterall you need to make it seem logical. They won’t believe you had been in such a terrible state all along or that you’d actually do it but you have to convince them. 

Now start reminding that person of all the amazing things they had done for you and how utterly ungrateful you are for turning your back on them. Tell them you have reached a point where your reasoning has failed you; where you were so depressed and lonely that nothing and no one even mattered. Not your parents, nor your siblings nor your spouse and children, if any. All you could think of was a way out. Even if that way defied your own destiny. You couldn’t fight anymore. You didn’t want to hold on to any more hopes. Nothing and no one gave you hope. You had eyes that could see but you didn’t want to look out for the light. You had hands that could hold but you didn’t want to reach out for help. You wanted to stay where you are. You chose desperation. Yes, you chose it. Desperation didn’t choose you. You decided to curl into fetal position and cry. You shut the world out. You turned your back on life. All you could see where the thorns on the rose, the greyish skies where rainbows hide.   You may tell them you’re a failure,  not for the many times you failed, but actually for failing to find the will to try within you. 

And just before you think I’m judging you for your suicidal thoughts, I just want you to know that I, too, have had them. We all have them. Yes, we’ve all been so low that we could no longer bear life’s afflictions. Everybody is prone to depression, anxiety, mental illness. You’re not a weirdo and you’re certainly not alone in this. The only difference between someone who acts upon these thoughts and someone who refrains from cutting their own rope is how hopeful they remain. The despaired aren’t weak. You aren’t weak for seeking help. You aren’t weak if you cry. You aren’t weak if you’re burnt out, broke, jobless, divorced, betrayed. You are stronger and more free when you understand the wisdom behind your affliction. 

I don’t know what would make you want to read a “how to write a suicide letter”. I don’t know why I’m putting myself in this position where I might be misunderstood. But I’m writing this for somebody, anybody who needs to read this, to know they’re so loved and cherished. You need to know you are an indispensible person in someone’s life. You mean the world to somebody and it’s not up to you to decide to leave them. No. Your time has not come and don’t ever think that by taking the nearest exit you’ll rid yourself of heartache. Don’t ever think that by writing a suicide letter you’d justify yourself to your loved ones. 

Don’t think that by escaping your brokeness you wouldn’t break someone else’s life. 
*To someone I love, someone I don’t even know, hang in there