Ramadan Series: Power vs. Respect

Hello and welcome to my blog! Welcome to the Ramadan series where I discuss universal concepts like kindness and inner peace from my experience and share my insight with you. Today I’m going to talk about the power versus respect dynamic.

What is power?

According to the dictionary, power is the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behaviour of others or the course of events. For example: “a political process that offers people power over their own lives”. A king has power. A politician has power. But does this automatically mean they have respect? Not necessarily.

What is respect?

According to the dictionary, respect is due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others. For example,
“young people’s lack of respect for their parents is a modern day issue”.

The abuse of power

According to unesco.org “The abuse and misuse of power or authority in the course of performing work can occur both with external stakeholders and internally among staff. The effects can be damaging to morale and to working relationships.

Abuse of power or authority can take various forms. Examples include:

Bullying or harassing behaviour
Requesting staff to do personal errands or favours
Pressuring staff to distort facts or break rules
Interfering with the ability of a colleague to work effectively (i.e. by impeding access to information or resources)”

Do you give respect to get respect? Or is it the other way around?

There are so many blogs on Google that say yes. You must earn respect before receiving it. What does this mean? Well, I didn’t want to complicate things for you and gkve you 10 ways to earn respect. Plus, I’m honestly still working on it. I feel like my loved ones don’t respect me sometimes, and I feel that my behaviors may have something to do with it. My advice to myself and to you is to simply act in a respectable manner and treat others as you wish they would treat you. For example, if you don’t want people to talk about you behind your back, don’t talk about others behind their backs. If you don’t want to be yelled at, don’t yell at others. If you don’t want someone to emotionally manipulate you, don’t do that to others. Also, I feel like self confidence is key. My explaining myself and avoiding conflict and being hesitant to make decisions and being extremely moody don’t help my case either.

If you were in a position of power, what would you do?

Do you feel respected by others? Do you respect others?

New month, New challenge: Day 4

Hello and welcome to my blog! Welcome to the new month, new challenge series where I share the challenge of the day on the same day that I do it so that you can do it with me if you want!

I’m having trouble sleeping lately. Struggling with my inner demons and whatnot. I want to be a better person. I want to be tolerant and forgiving and understanding and patient and calm and collected, but I can’t do that when I feel like I can’t be myself. My sensitivity and my talkativeness and need for affection are frowned upon, and it feels pretty lonely in my heart. I just wish I could hang out with someone who understood me, who accepted me just the way I was. Suppressing my emotions is affecting my sleep and diet and I keep going through rabbit holes of escapism. Now that I let that out…

Today’s challenge is:

Try something new. Like a new recipe, a new tv show, new restaurant… you decide.

This is in alignment with yesterday’s kindness challenge. I was supposed to bake something for someone but I didn’t feel like it. Plus, I didn’t leave the house yesterday. I bought a chocolate chip cookie mix from the store today. I usually bake things from scratch, but I’m fasting and I’m tired, hence the box mix.

Expectations
Versus Reality. What do you think? I still haven’t tasted them since I’m fasting but I can’t wait!

I also made atayef for the 1st time ever (it’s an arabic dessert) because every Tuesday my son has cooking class on school and obviously I’m the one that has to do the cooking. It’s actually a simple recipe.

You put 1 cup flour, 1 cup water, and some baking powder.
You can put syrup, honey or chocolate spread on it.

Do this challenge with me: https://21dayschallengeapp.com/app/challenge

What new thing will you try today? Let me know in the comments below. Don’t forget to like and share with your friends and family so they can do the challenge too.

Ramadan Series: Do you have what it takes to be a leader?

Hello and welcome to my blog! Welcome to the Ramadan series where I discuss universal concepts like kindness and inner peace from my experience and share my insight with you. Today I will talk about leadership qualities.

I want to be a leader sometimes. Other times I’m happy being a follower. Not everyone can be a leader, and that’s okay. But are leaders born or made?

In my opinion, both. Some people are natural born leaders. Others need to work on their leadership skills. There are situations and roles in life where you are forced to step up and become a leader. For example, I’m a mom, therefore I am a leader of my son. He will do as I do not as I say. I can either be a good leader or a bad leader, but I am his role model, whether I like it or not.

If you are with a group of people, and nobody assumes leadership of the group, somebody has to step up and assume the role of the leader. A group without a leader is like a flock of sheep without a shepherd. I’m in no way calling followers sheep, but some people are better suited for the role of the follower. They’re good at executing orders and doing what they’re told. A group cannot have more than one leader.

There is an arabic proverb that translates to: If there are too many cooks, the food will be burnt.

But what makes a leader?

The qualities a leader must possess are many, but basically a leader must be:

  • Trustworthy
  • Honest
  • Loyal
  • Expert with know how
  • Charismatic
  • Competent
  • Communicative
  • Visionary
  • Decisive
  • Moral
  • Cooperative
  • Caring and attentive listener
  • Intelligent
  • Dedicated
  • Indpiring role model
  • Motivating
  • Courageous
  • Self-driven
  • Kind and courteous
  • Fair-minded

The list above is the leadership matrix that I researched in 2014 to assess my leadership skills. I reassessed them in 2016 and found some improvement. However, if I were to assess how many of these qualities I possess now, I don’t think I’d score high. Maybe I’m being too critical on myself, or maybe marriage turned me into a follower. Whatever the case, I feel like I must be a leader at least to my son and that’s going to take a lot of work on myself.

Which leadership qualities do you have?

Which qualities do you need to work on?

New month, New challenge: Day 3

Hello and welcome to my blog! I didn’t make goals for May because I still have my Ramadan goals that I’m working on. There are 10 days left of Ramadan, and they are the most significant days. On the odd nights, extra worship is favored. I’m glad I’m doing the kindness challenge during these days (stay tuned when that challenge ends) and the new year, new you challenge is motivating.

I love Spring and I love the month of May. My dad, oldest sister, oldest nephew, and younger sister were all born in May. Any month with a loved one’s birthday in it is special to me.

Today’s challenge is:

Think positive! For every scenario you think of, imagine the best thing that could happen.

This really is a challenge for me. I tend to catastrophize and use emotional reasoning in my thinking. I always take things personally and assume the worst.

So today I’m going to take one scenario, which has been dominant on my mind, and tell myself that what I fear won’t happen. I have a fear of abandonment so I will tell myself that my relationships will not all fail. In fact, they will thrive. My friendships will be strngthened. My marriage will grow stronger day by day. My son won’t abandon me when I’m old and grey.

Tell me in the comments: what future scenario scares you? Can you think of a better alternative scenario?

Do this challenge with me: https://21dayschallengeapp.com/app/challenge

New month, New challenge: Day 2

Hello and welcome to my blog! How are you doing today? I have a bit of a headache because fasting does that to me (I’m aware I’m not the 1st or last person to get exhausted from fasting and I hope I’m not coming across as complaining). I did a 4 minute arm workout (trying to get into exercising daily starting today) and I read quraan. I’m kind of bored as well because I don’t have the energy to do anything productive. So all I have are my challenges.

I started the new year, new you challenge, even though it’s not a new year but it is a new month, and in addition to my focus on spiritual things (I printed out a plannar just for that and I’m using it), and trying to perform random uncalculated acts of kindness whenever I can, I have this challenge to keep me motivated!

Unlike the other challenges where I’d post after doing the entire challenge, I’m going to take you through this challenge day by day in case you want to do it with me.

Today’s challenge is:

Tell people how much they mean to you.

I started with telling my son how much I love him, which I do often anyway. Then I told my dad. Then I told my husband.

Now I’m telling you all, my readers, that it means so much to me that you take the time to read my blogs, like and comment.

To do this challenge with me, go to: https://21dayschallengeapp.com/app/challenge

New month, New challenge: Day 1

Hello and welcome to my blog! As you know, I’ve been doing challenges on the 21 days challenge app, and I was going to start the declutter challenge ao that I’d be doing 2 challenges (kindness and declutter). I decided to postpone the declutter challenge a few days, or maybe a week.

I’m still doing the no junk food challenge (it finished yesterday but I still have a few unfinished days so I’m waiting until I’m able to do what they say). I’m also doing an art challenge with my 6 year old. He and I actually created that challenge together. Art is how we bond now. That and board games.

Happy May!

It’s a new month and to me that signals a new beginning. To me, Mondays signal the beginning of a new week (sorry but I kind of like Monday) and the beginning of a new month or a new season or a new year all excite me.

There’s always much to be grateful for if you look hard enough. I’m not putting my head in the sand because Lebanon is in the dumps, and it hurts. I watched a livestream yesterday discussing the situation in Lebanon and a correspondant said:

I have been to war zones and I have never seen a country die slowly like Lebanon. I have never seen a country lose hope and go into anxiety and depression like in lebanon, and I’ve seen a lot.

So I need to be positive to function. My son is already suffering from staying at home most of the time and not going to school. I need to look after my mental health for my sake and for the sake of those who must tolerate me when I’m in anxiety and depression land.

I do this in a lot of ways. Reading, writing, coloring, playing games on my phone, watching tv shows and movies (although too much of the latter makes me unproductive and more depressed). Another way I take care of my mental health is through focusing on my goals, and what better way than doing challenges that help me work on my self improvement in a fun way.

I just started the new year, new you challenge, even though it’s not a new year but it is a new month, and in addition to my focus on spiritual things (I printed out a plannar just for that and I’m using it), and trying to perform random uncalculated acts of kindness whenever I can, I have this challenge to keep me motivated!

Unlike the other challenges where I’d post after doing the entire challenge, I’m going to take you through this challenge day by day in case you want to do it with me.

Today’s challenge is:

Print a positive quote and put it on your wallet or mirror so you can see it every day.

I actually have many printed quotes available so I’m going to choose one and put it on the fridge.

Do this challenge with me: https://21dayschallengeapp.com/app/challenge

Ramadan Series: Jealousy and Envy

Hello and welcome to my blog! Welcome to the Ramadan series where I discuss universal concepts like kindness and inner peace from my experience and share my insight with you. Today I will be discussing jealousy and envy.

Comparing yourself to others breeds insecurity. This insecurity can develop into jealousy, where you want what the other person has. The saying “The grass isn’t always greener on the other side” is so true. We all have areas where we thrive and areas where we could use some improvement. It’s hard to focus on yourself in the age of social media. Many people try to show the glamorous side of their life, some going to the extent of editing their images to look picture perfect. There has been a rise of authenticity lately when it comes to stay at home moms specifically (at least that’s why I see) and speaking up about mental health. This is good news.

However, humans will be humans and even with the rise in authenticity, we still compare our lives to others, claiming everyone else has it all together. This gives one of three reactions.

The 1st, the person comparing their life to others will feel the need to show the glamorous side of their life on social media, hence feeding the cycle.

The 2nd, the person comparing will feel depressed because they’re not satisfied with their own life, and this will breed self blame and self loathing and other problems caused by depression. This is because the person comparing is jealous of what they see and want the same but feel like they can’t get it.

The 3rd, the person comparing will feel anger and resentment towards the other person and wish that the other person isn’t so pretty or rich or has the ability to travel etc… They will feel like the other person doesn’t deserve what they have and that they are more entitled to it. This, my ladies and gents is called envy. This is a disease of the heart.

It is normal to feel jealous once in a while. The solution is to:

  1. Limit your time on social media. Don’t stalk other people on social media. Unfollow accounts that make you feel insecure about your life.
  2. Resist the urge to beautify your life on social media. Either post something beneficial and uplifting or post something authentic. Don’t photoshop your pictures to make your life look glamorous.
  3. Work on yourself. Make goals and work on them. Practice self love and self care. If you’re not satisfied with something in your life, either work on it to change it or try to accept it.

If you feel envious about someone else, seek help. Tell someone and read about gratitude. Learn to be content with your life.

If you have someone envious in your life, limit your contact with them. Don’t let them in on details of your life, at least not the parts you sense they are envious about.

Ramadan Series: Use your talents for good!

Hello and welcome to my blog! Welcome to the Ramadan series where I discuss universal concepts like kindness and inner peace from my experience and share my insight with you. Today I will talk about how to use your talents to serve others and to make a difference.

We each have a set of tools that are unique to us. Some of those tools come naturally, and some need to be honed into skills. For example, a social butterfly is naturally good at speaking to people and convincing them to do things. This person would be good as a public speaker. Someone who is a good listener and good at giving advice would be fit to be a social advisor. Someone who is good at fixing things would be a good handiman or mechanic. Someone who is good at explaining things in simple terms would be a good teacher. I could go on and on but you get the picture.

An example of a talent not used for good is when Oppenheimer invented the atomic bomb.

I’m sure you’re good at something, or several things. You may or may not be aware of it, but you are. And it is your responsibility to share your gift with others. This is what I’m doing with my writing. I honestly never imagined that I would become a writer. I used to write poetry for years as an outlet from all my frustrations. The 1st time I sat and wrote something was because I was heartbroken and I needed a healthy way to deal with my emotions.

A few years later and I’ve come so far (not trying to toot my own horn). My point is to not close yourself off of opportunities and things that may turn out to be talents of yours. Another thing I had no idea I could do was drawing and arts and crafts (I’m not about to turn that into a profession anytime soon. It’s just a way I spend quality time with my son).

If you had asked me to do anything related to drawing or painting or making things out of toilet paper rolls 5 years ago, I would have told you that I didn’t have an artistic bone in my body. I would have told you that you’re mistaking me for my youngest sister. She’s the artistic one. My other sister turned out to be quite the artist too. Two of my sisters are awesome painters by the way.

My talent is writing. It’s a skill I discovered and try to hone constantly by reading and writing. I use it to serve others by motivating and inspiring others to be the best versions of themselves and to help others relate by being vulnerable and talking about my thoughts and feelings so that I can feel less alone and you can feel less alone. I open up my heart and mind and let it pour onto the blog and into my books so you can benefit from my experiences. I hope I’m helping someone with my writings (cue imposter syndrome thoughts). There is a lot that I can’t share here because I don’t want to violate the privacy of others. Things that would definitely benefit you but I must censor my thoughts in order to protect the privacy of my loved ones. One day when I make it to therapy, I’ll let out those thoughts and learn to formulate them in an indirect way so as to not expose those involved.

What is your talent?

How are you going to use it to serve others?

Ramadan Series: AN EXTRA CHALLENGE!

Oooh! I love challenges! I’m currently doing 4 challenges on 21 days challenge app. I want to do more but I don’t want to overwhelm myself.

Hello and welcome to my blog! Welcome to the Ramadan series where I discuss universal concepts like kindness and inner peace from my experience and share my insight with you.

Worship is challenging. It is. To pray 5 times a day. To stay on your best behavior. To control your anger. To be fair and honest. I know that people by nature are good but society has a big influence. When you see authorities around you are corrupt and that manipulative people get ahead, it’s easy to drift into that direction.

When you are in a line of work where many people get addicted to drugs or get involved in criminal activity, it’s hard to walk the line. So after we established how hard it is to do good in general, like to give charity when you want to save up for something else or to pray when you don’t feel like it, and how hard it is to not do illegal or immoral things, imagine this:

You also have to stop doing things that are otherwise okay, for 16 hours a day, things like eating and drinking and intimacy with your spouse. And on top of that, you have to be extra careful with your manners or you risk your fast not being accepted.

So you’re hungry and you’re tired and your kids or colleagues or spouse or siblings are testing your patience and you feel like snapping at them. You want to be left alone but you have responsibilities. That’s literally me right now.

I spent months training myself to control my anger and I was doing fine and then comes Ramadan and I have to abstain from food and drink and COFFEE for 16 hours while tending to my household and taking care of my son and disciplining him.

In all honesty, I turned into a raging hulk yesterday (basically I’m either doing that or passing out and handing my son my phone so he can leave me alone) and then I got really tired, then I became super nice mom for the rest of the evening despite having a migraine. Fasting drains me and I pray for patience and a sense of calm so that my fast will be accepted, because if it is, the rewards are infinite.

Everytime I feel a pang of hunger, I tell myself: think of how the poor must feel, those who are dying of famine.

Everytime I feel anger, I will remind myself of the rewards of being patient.

The reward for fasting is mentioned in the following Hadeeths: “Every action of the son of Adam is given manifold reward, each good deed receiving ten times its like, up to seven hundred times. Allah, the Most High said: ‘Except for fasting, for it is for Me and I will give recompense for it, he leaves off his desires and his food for Me.’ For the fasting person, there are two times of joy; a time when he breaks his fast and a time of joy when he meets his Lord, and the smell coming from the mouth of the fasting person is better with Allah than the smell of musk.” (Bukhari).

During my fast and in Ramadan, I become hyper aware of my blessings. The food and shelter and security. The ability to fast in itself is a blessing. Some people fast and don’t break a sweat, but fasting drains my energy. I just hope I win this challenge of fasting while remaining calm and collected…

“Whoever establishes prayers during the nights of Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, all his past sins will be forgiven.”

How are your Ramadan/April goals going?

Hello and welcome to my blog! I hope you’re having a great month, week, day. If it’s not your day, your month, or even your year, that’s okay. You can always reset and make goals and go after them. For me, Ramadan is all about resetting my soul and reprioritizing my life. It’s about self discipline and spirituality. For my non Muslim readers, have you made goals for this month April?

Fun fact: My mom’s name was April Joy before she converted from being a catholic to being a Muslim at age 20. She was also born in April, so this is a special month for me.

As for my Ramadan goals, let’s see how I did in the 1st week of Ramadan:

I’m filling out a Ramadan plannar for the ibadat part of Ramadan. It’s going well. I love ticking boxes. It’s very motivating. Different prayers (duha, sunnah, tahajjud, witr, taraweeh) and quran (reading, tafseer, and al kahf). I added the planner to my dropbox if you want to check it out. I know we’re a week into ramadan but it’s not too late to make and implement goals if you haven’t already.

However, I never made a checklist for my other Ramadan goals.

As I said, I’m working on my ibadat (worship) goals, but I haven’t started on my household projects (I’m doing housework but not as much as I’d like). I can’t start the declutter challenge until I finish 1 challenge (I’m currently doing 4 other challenges and more would be overwhelming). As for the cooking challenge, I’m still cooking once a week because I’m eating at my in laws 4 days a week and once a week at my mom’s. So I guess the cooking challenge will have to wait until after Ramadan.

The kindness challenge also is waiting for me to finish one of the 4 challenges I’m currently doing. As for the box, I keep forgetting to ask my sister. Last year, my sister told me that supermarkets were selling boxes of food supplies and you could buy one and they’d send it to a poor family. I haven’t heard of such a thing this year. During these tough times, I really want to help, but 50,000 (the cost of a box of groceries last year) won’t cut it this year. Prices are 10 times more than they were last year. Anyway, if you’re reading this and you live in Lebanon and you know of a trusted places selling boxes of groceries for poor people, let me know please.

As for parenting, I’m not having the energy to spend time with my son. I barely do 1 activity a day with him. He is getting so bored. We worked on the Ramadan worksheet a week before ramadan, when he was excited because it was new, and then again yesterday he colored 1 page. I feel my son mirrors my moods and energy levels. As for him reading quraan, he is 6 so he can’t read, but yesterday I told him I’m going to start having him listen to one surah a day as a youtube video (there is a certain channel he likes called Learn with Zakaria). I’m also working on 3 other things with him but I’m keeping them low key, especially since I didn’t write them in the goals.

As for Islamic learning, I deleted the Ramadan legacy app because it wasn’t working. I used it last Ramadan alongside a plannar but this year I can’t. It’s fine though because my plannar is perfect for this year. I didn’t watch any tafseer videos until yesterday because animated tafseer videos came up and I love animated videos. They’re short, to the point, and stick in my head longer because of the animation. As for the book Nurturing Eeman in Children, I read 1 chapter before ramadan then didn’t anymore, basically because I haven’t been going on my laptop at all, except once to convert some blog posts into podcasts.

Last but not least, in the health aspect, I am currently doing the 21 day no junk food challenge and the 21 day home workout challenge, but I haven’t been going in the sun. I’m also doing the 21 day fix your sleep challenge and the 21 day positive mindset challenge, which also contribute to my health. So I guess week 1, my focus has been on ibadat and health.

Oh and I’m not watching any movies or tv shows, except that one time I rewatched The incredibles 2 with my son because I promised him. I’m also posting ramadan related/ ramadan themed content so I’m on track with that goal too.

Which challenge should I do next?

Kindness challenge

Declutter challenge

Let me know in the comments below. Please like and share with your friends and family to encourage them to make and implement goals.

How are your Ramadan/April goals going?