Storytime: You always have a choice

As I sit here, with no electricity (they are removing it 10 hours a day in my area, while other areas don’t get electricity for 48 hours in a row sometimes), just reading blog posts to pass the time until the electricity comes in an hour, I ponder on a few things.

I had a spirit lifting conversation with a friend today. We spoke for hours and I only had to go because I needed to heat my lunch in the microwave before the electricity went off. For reasons beyond my control, I no longer have wifi when there is no electricity. It would have helped a lot of I did, but on the bright side, it helps me leave my phone a bit (not for long obviously since I end up playing candy crush and reading blogs. I can read saved blog posts offline but I can’t click like so I will not un save them until I have clicked like).

A few of the things I could be doing if there was wifi right now are:

  • Create Canva designs of parts of my book “The best advice to improve yourself and your relationships” and post them on Instagram and Twitter.
  • Gather links of my podcast into a blog post (my podcast is now available on Spotify, Anchor, Breaker, Radio Public, and Google Podcasts).
  • Start translating my book “The best advice to improve yourself and your relationships” into Arabic.
  • Make a few TikTok videos of my time in Turkey in 2019.

Besides the situation I’m in (feeling creative but not being able to work due to no electricity or wifi), I’m sleepy. I haven’t been eating well or sleeping well lately. I think I may be stressed out. I don’t know if it’s because of the situation in Lebanon or from being at home too much or my issues with my family or the problems some of my family members are going through and I can’t do anything to help, or maybe it’s my marriage issues, or my hormones, or the heat.

Truth is, I can blame my lack of self care on any of these things and it wouldn’t matter. The result is the same. I’m feeling anxious, lathergic, erratic, I either overeat or don’t eat enough. I stay up late reading novels, sometimes all night. I’m not taking care of myself. I need to do better.

One thing my friend told me today:

“You always have a choice”.

These feelings of hopelessness and helplessness are not an excuse to self destruct.

I have a choice to sleep early, to put my phone aside at bedtime (I did just that last night but only because my phone battery was 17% and the charger is too far from the bed).

I can choose to eat healthy food (I have been occasionally eating more fruit but I also ate a lot of junk food on Monday and tuesday).

I can choose to not let the little things in my marriage bother me, to let them go, to have compassion and tolerance. Some things I need to fight for but I can’t change anyone. I can only change my perception, my reaction.

So as soon as the wifi is on, this post will get published, and I will do what I said I would do. Until then, I choose to read blog posts instead of playing candy crush.

The Best Ways to Perfect Your Nighttime Routine

Hello and welcome to my blog! Today I want to share with you 21 things you can do before bed in order to get a better sleep. I finished the challenge last night. However, there are 2 things on the list I didn’t do, one of which is the reason why I can’t sleep well at night.

Can you guess which one it is?

A routine is very important, whether in the morning or in the evening. You may want to have the same routine everyday (shower, read, sleep for example) or you may want a weekday routine versus weekend routine, or you may simply want to try out these things one thing at a time, like I did.

1. Reflect on the day. Write at least one thing that went pretty well.

My son ate his meals without a fuss. He also went to karate class without nagging. Even though he didn’t sleep until after 11 pm and misbehaved a bit, he was relatively well behaved today.

2. Do something relaxing. Have a facial mask, do some painting, take a bath. Whatever helps you relax, do it.

I took a shower (I don’t find baths relaxing).

3. Avoid your phone at least 1 hour before going to sleep.

I wish I could do this, but I’m addicted to my phone. I pick it up as soon I wake up and as soon as I get into bed. I’ve been going to bed around 11 pm but end up on my phone for 1 to 2 hours. The closest I got to giving up my phone at night was when I hopped into bed a few days ago and my phone was 17%. Within 10 minutes, it became 3% and I had to get up and put it in the charger. I fell asleep almost immediately after because my phone wasn’t next to me. I really need to work on this because at this point, I’m self sabotaging and I’m aware of it but not actively trying to stop.

4. Drink some camomile tea or other herbal tea (decaffeinated) before bed.

I drink green tea every night before I sleep.

5. Have a good sleep environment. Keep the bedroom at a good temperature, use blackout curtains or a sleep mask to block the light.

This is a given, except I don’t like to use sleep masks, even though I have one.

6. Journal. Take the time to pause and reflect.

I journalled about something that is bothering me. I wrote it in my notebook with a pen! Not on my phone.

7. Light some scented candles and play a relaxing playlist.

Scented candles are not my thing. I don’t think I own any. However, I did play relaxing nature sounds so I’m counting this as done.

8. Do some stretching/yoga before bed.

I have been stretching more and more lately because my muscles are so pulled they hurt.

9. Write a gratitude list:

  • I’m grateful for my husband. He is my confidante, my advisor, my twin flame.
  • I’m grateful for my son. I love his hugs and kisses. He is so cute and smart and kissable. He is sometimes funny and tries to be brave and wants to be strong. I see in him great potential.
  • I’m grateful for my parents. Despite everything, they are there for me and they love me and want what’s best for me.

10. Read a good book before going to sleep. Helps you unwind and sleep better.

I read a chapter from the book “The 3rd Girl” by Agatha Cristie. I’m usually a romance novel girl but this mystery is keeping me on my toes. I finished the book and wrote a review about it here.

11. Plan your next day. Your tasks, outfit, snacks, …

Some days I plan my tasks as soon as I wake up. Other days I plan the night before.

12. Send a special good night text to someone you love.

I bid my best friend goodnight.

13. Take a nice hot shower or bath.

I took a hot shower.

14. Cut out caffeine, alcohol, or sugar at least 3 hours before bed.

I’ve been drinking coffee once a day for months, and in the afternoon I drink black tea. I usually drink green tea in the evening but last night I had black tea at 8pm and I went to bed at 11 pm but didn’t fall asleep until half-past midnight.

15. Meditate/pray. Just be alone with your thoughts.

It’s scary for me to be alone with my thoughts. I often distract myself with podcasts, YouTube videos, TV shows, and books. That night, however, I put my phone aside for 2 minutes to appreciate how much I have and list them in my head.

16. Tidy up your space. You’ll be able to feel calmer and relaxed.

I generally keep my space tidy.

17. Have a light dinner before bed.

I try not to eat before bed, but if I must, I try to keep it light.

18. Set intentions for tomorrow.

This seems similar to task 11 but I set my intention to be productive.

19. Diffuse some essential oils to improve your sleep quality.

I don’t do essential oils. I shower with lavender scented body wash but that’s about it for me.

20. Avoid checking emails, news, studying, or working before sleep.

Lately I’ve been going on twitter before bed to promote my books but that night I didn’t.

21. Don’t go to bed hungry. Eat some almonds, a banana, or porridge to help you sleep better.

I go to bed hungry a lot, and I wake up starving! Sometimes I eat a banana, porridge or a sandwich before bed to help me fall asleep.

I hope these tips helped you. Do you follow any of these tips? Do you have a nighttime routine?

To do this challenge, go to:

21 techniques to increase your productivity

1. Make your bed in the morning (so you won’t be tempted to go back there).

I almost always make my bed in the morning.

2. Have a nice healthy and energetic breakfast (to have energy for the most productive part of your day).

I rarely eat a healthy breakfast. I had boiled eggs.

3. Organize a cluttered space (you’re going to feel instantly more productive).

I’m usually tidy but this was a good reminder.

4. Spend less time on the phone (and do something useful).

The bane of my existence! I’m trying.

5. Get a planner and use it (plan everything you want to achieve).

I plan on my calendar but I did print out a weekly planner and filled it up.

6. Turn off unnecessary notifications on the phone (don’t let this little machine distract you).

I turn off my wifi when I don’t want to be distracted by my phone.

7. Create a meal plan for the entire week ( so you don’t waste a lot of time thinking about it every day).

I plan what I’m going to cook a day before, but meal planning for the week is not my thing.

8. Make a to-do list (and try to complete all the tasks).

I make to-do lists almost every day.

9. Take a 30 min walk (to get some fresh air and feel motivated).

I’ve been walking my son to his karate classes and I’m definitely getting my steps in!

10. Declutter email inbox (it can be a little overwhelming sometimes).

I normally do this once a week, or more.

11. Exercise for 30 min (even if you don’t do anything during the day, you will feel super productive after your workout).

I was able to do 15 minutes, more than my usual 7.

12. Read a chapter of a book before bed (and forget social media).

I’ve been reading from 100 simple secrets of happiness every day, sometimes right before bed.

13. Don’t watch TV (so you have more time for yourself).

I’ve been binge-watching daily for a month but I skipped 2 days of no TV!

14. Organize your closet (and donate everything you don’t want anymore).

I did this today (I’m not doing the tasks in order).

15. Create a music playlist with your favorite songs (and dance like no one is watching).

I did!

16. Don’t check your phone right after you wake up (and have a slow and peaceful morning).

I’ve been practicing this a lot lately. One day I even didn’t go on my phone until after 3 hours of waking up!

17. Meditate for 10 min (you will feel rejuvenated).

I listened to relaxing sounds on my phone for 10 minutes.

18. Organize your pantry and fridge (so you don’t spend too much time searching for your favorite snack).

I did and it felt so good!

19. Deep clean your room (clear space, clear mind).

I deep cleaned the kitchen.

20. Unsubscribe people that don’t bring you joy anymore (you will feel much more relieved).

I do an Instagram purge every once in a while and it feels good.

21. Schedule a rest period during your day (we all need some relax time).

I napped. I’ve been doing that more and more lately.

To do this challenge, go to:

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?

What are your priorities in life?

Our priorities are the areas of our lives that are meaningful and important to us. They’re usually activities, practices, or relationships that we want to put genuine effort and time into. Priorities imply that a hierarchy can be followed for different areas of your life and/or work.

I was venting to a friend the other day about my problems, and I don’t remember what I said exactly but basically, I gave her a list of all the things I was angry about. Things that I wanted in my life but couldn’t have, for one reason or another.

She said something very insightful. She said that I need to sit with myself and think about my priorities. Pick one or two and work on making them happen. Don’t try to get everything you want all at once, or you’ll end up with nothing.

I kind of knew this already, but I’ve been avoiding doing what I need to do. Every month since November 2019, I’ve been making 20 + goals and tracking my progress, telling myself if I achieve 5, I’m good. The problem is that I’m never fulfilled. I’m stressed out all the time. Even when I go for walks, it’s to get in steps. I walk around tense and startled from the sound of cars and the looks of people.

I keep myself busy with reading and writing. I’ve been meditating. It helps, but it’s not enough. I’ve been exercising, but not every day. I haven’t been socializing.

What I want: a teaching job (but I’m terrified to even apply because I haven’t taught in 6 years and before that I used to tutor one on one), a car and to practice driving (I’ve had a license for 7 years but I never practiced driving an automatic car), a fit body (my eating habits are all over the place), nice mom friends, nice neighbor friends, to not be socially anxious, to be patient and graceful, to be wise and spiritually connected to God, a desk, a treadmill, a library, to volunteer and give back to society, more me time (I love my son but he needs to see kids more often and I need to see adults more often), for this pandemic to end, for the economy in Lebanon to recover, world peace, the end of poverty, to write a best selling novel, for people to buy my books, to read all the ebooks on my laptop, to sleep early, wake up early, and maintain energy throughout the day, to eat healthy balanced meals, a healthier marriage (my marriage is fine but there’s always room for improvement).

Is that too much to ask?

So I categorized my goals and I’m working on things to do daily, weekly, and monthly. I noticed I’m more consistent with the daily things. I’m not even going near the monthly things, with the mentality of “I have all of January to do this”.

About work, I thought about it and realized work is not a priority right now because where am I going to put my 5-year-old when I go to work? In the middle of a pandemic where people are losing their jobs, the country is going on lockdown every few months, and the economy is a bust. Who needs a teacher when schools are barely holding themselves together going online? Then suddenly I decided to check my emails today and I went down a rabbit hole and before I realize what’s going on, I’m updating my CV. I need lessons in prioritizing. My top priority is being the best mom I can be. My son is still highly dependent on me and not prioritizing him is making him super clingy. 2020 has been hard on me, but on him too being an only child. He is getting bored and lonely and he needs my undivided attention, not my anxiety-ridden attitude. Also, self-care is a big priority for me because you can’t pour from an empty cup. But I also need to socialize, … Do you see what is happening here?

How do you prioritize what you want?

Quote of the day

Doing something that is productive is a great way to alleviate emotional stress. Get your mind doing something that is productive.
-Ziggy Marley

Good evening 🌃

How are you doing today?

I have a migraine because I’ve been up since 4am and it’s 8:30pm. I napped for about 30 minutes in the morning.

Anyway, I guess I good say that I was a little productive today but not so much.

I really want to write a blog post but I don’t think I’m up for it.

So instead I will ask you what productive thing have you done today?

I’m off to put my 5 year old to bed and I think I’m going to turn in early as well.

The problem with having too many goals

I have a problem. I get really excited for self improvement, so I download so many ebooks and apps and podcasts, then when I get all over the place, I get really overwhelmed and I give up.

The funny thing is that 10 years ago, I took a course in Goal Setting. I still have the papers from the course (though I never reread them). I think I even got a certificate for attendance, but I have no idea where I put it.

The 1st rule to goal setting is writing your goals down. So I did that just now, and I was shocked by how many things I’m working on right now. No wonder I feel overwhelmed.

There are so many things I’m trying to do and so many things I’m trying to improve all at once, it’s scary!

But I decided to try to focus on a few at a time. I won’t share my goals here because I recently watched a youtube video that said that statistics say that when you talk about your goals, you’re less likely to achieve them, and if you know me, you know I take the internet at face value, so let’s see what happens. I’ll check in about this on December 1st. Remind me in the comments if I forget, as I probably will.

So whatever you’re working on, write your goals down, don’t work on too many goals at a time, and check in with yourself every month to see how much you have accomplished of your goals. Also a good idea is to categorize your goals (I love categorizing) into health, work, hobbies, spiritual, family, social, etc.

Benefits of exercise

Hello 👋

How are you doing today?

I hope you’re eating healthy and exercising because I’m not!

Well, not consistently anyway.

It has been my goal since forever to exercise daily. The last time I had that goal accomplished was 6 months after I delivered my son, for 6 months I exercised an hour a day until I lost all the baby fat.

Now my son is 5 years old and my weight still fluctuates. I’m not overweight, but I’m not fit. I feel like an 80-year-old. Things like standing and sitting exhaust me, and I’m always tired.

I know why this is happening. I don’t eat breakfast, I don’t sleep well, and I don’t exercise daily. It’s not like I intentionally try to sabotage my life and be like this, but consistency is something I have always struggled with.

I get excited when I download a new workout app and then I get overwhelmed, lazy, busy, tired, or forget after a few days. I try to hold myself accountable by telling someone to remind me to work out but then they either don’t remind me, or they’d remind me when I’m busy.

So I came up with an idea. I need someone to follow me around the house, prepare healthy snacks for me and hand them to me, create a workout routine for me and do it with me, and then take my phone away at 10 pm so I can sleep early.

Well since that’s not practical, I came up with another idea. To blog about it. Maybe if I reminded myself and others of the benefits of exercising, then I’d exercise more.

Going to the gym and for walks are currently not an option for me so I need to find a way to exercise every day at home until it becomes a habit.

Also, I ate a peach yesterday so I’m rocking it in the health department 😎 I’m pretty proud of myself right now for that.

So what are the health benefits of exercise?

  • Helps you control your weight. As I said, I’m not overweight but my weight does still go up and down, which isn’t very good.
  • Reduces your risk of heart diseases. I already have a few health problems which, ironically, the doctors said I must eat healthily and exercise daily to avoid the long-term complications of these problems but do I listen? No. I’m trying. I need to try harder.
  • Helps your body manage blood sugar and insulin levels. Another one of those complications. I’m supposed to be on a diabetic diet. Ha. I wish.
  • Helps you quit smoking. I don’t smoke but for those trying to quit, exercise!
  • Improves your mental health and mood. It’s true. Sometimes, when I’m having an anxiety attack, exercising stops the attack.
  • Helps keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age.
  • It Is Good for Your Muscles and Bones.
  • It Can Increase Your Energy Levels. My main reason for wanting to exercise daily.
  • It Can Help Skin Health. Healthy skin is a combination of healthy eating, regular exercise, and finding the right lotion.
  • It Can Help With Relaxation and Sleep Quality. So healthy eating, regular exercise, and sleep are all interconnected. They’re a cycle that feeds on each other.

How much exercise is enough exercise?

Moderately strenuous

exercise, about 30 minutes a day, can lead to enormous benefits in terms of your mood, health, weight, and the ability to live an independent and fulfilling life. The exercise doesn’t need to be athletic or difficult. My goal is 8 minutes a day but 30 minutes is better.

I’m 55% exercising, meaning approximately 3 times a week

What happens if you don’t exercise?

Your muscles weaken. You will become more breathless as you do less activity. If you continue to be inactive you will feel worse, need more help and eventually, even simple daily tasks will be difficult. Yep, pretty much.

What happens to your body when you start exercising regularly?

Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood.

When should you consult your doctor before you exercise?

  • You have heart disease.
  • You have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
  • You have kidney disease.
  • You have arthritis.
  • You’re being treated for cancer, or you’ve recently completed cancer treatment.
  • You have high blood pressure.

Is walking enough?

If you can walk independently and maintain a speed of 4-6km/h for half an hour per day, then walking is sufficient exercise. Walking needs to sustain your interest in the long term. Walking can protect against chronic diseases, and there is less risk of injury compared to other forms of exercise.

What happens when you eat healthily but don’t exercise?

You will lose weight if you eat a low-calorie diet in which you burn off more calories than you take in. Adding physical activity allows you to burn more calories than dieting alone.

Is it bad to exercise at night?

Traditionally, experts have recommended not exercising at night as part of good sleep hygiene. A study, published on Oct. 29, 2018, in Sports Medicine, suggests that you can exercise in the evening as long as you avoid vigorous activity for at least one hour before bedtime.

Do you exercise regularly?

How to motivate yourself to do anything!

Hello 👋

How are you doing?

Have you been feeling lazy lately? Sluggish? Tired? Unmotivated?

I have just the thing for you!

Here are a few ways to motivate yourself to do anything:

Whether it’s housework or writing or exercising or in my case, all of the above…

1. Just do it

Whether this reminds you of the Nike logo or of Shia Le Beuf, just get on with it. Procrastination will just delay the inevitable

2. Break your big tasks into smaller parts if you can.

You want to write a book? Write 1 page everyday. You have a list of tasks, do 1 at a time.

3. Time your distractions.

Turn off your phone, or at least the wifi on your phone, or at least notifications from social media. Turn off the tv if it’s on in the background. Focus on the task at hand for at least 20 minutes, then allow 10 minutes for distractions. And so on until the task is done.

4. Work in time minute increments.

If you find it hard to focus for long on a certain task, then schedule 20 minutes to focus then give yourself a 5 or 10 minute break. Don’t let that break scrolling on instagram turn into an hour though!

5. Let your friends hold you accountable.

Tell a friend you want to exercise daily. Ask them to remind you, or to ask you at the end of the day whether you exercised or not. Having someone hold you accountable makes it more difficult to get out of what you want to do.

6. Surround yourself with friends who motivate you.

Instead of the toxic people who suck the life out of you and have a problem for every solution, spend more time with people who are enthusiastic about being productive and try to stay positive.

7. Feed your mind with motivation.

Whether it’s books, podcasts, or blogs, keep feeding your mind what you want to become. Motivated.

There are so many more ways to motivate yourself, like exercising and going in nature. There is actually a book called 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself.

Some of the points in this post are from my head and some are paraphrased from The positivity blog so you can head over there for more tips.

You can also follow my board on Pinterest called Motivation if you want motivational quotes.

What do you do to motivate yourself?