Friday, 23 January 2015

Emotional Fitness: 6 Reasons We Don’t Chase Our Dreams....

.... and why we should anyway.

When it comes to achieving your dreams, what’s stopping you? For many, a bad experience or discouraging person keeps them from fulfilling their heart's desire. But there are millions of other reasons why people don’t take a shot at happiness.
Here are a few of the most common ones:
  • You're too shy to ask.Whether it’s asking someone out on a date or applying for a job, many of us are too shy to actually approach another person. Even today, when much of our communication occurs virtually, nothing takes the place of a face-to-face request. It’s much harder to say no to someone directly than it is to ignore an email.
  • You feel you don’t deserve it.
    If you have doubts about your worthiness when it comes to career or relationships, you need to take a long look into your internal mirror. What negative messages are you sending to yourself? Why do you believe that you are not good enough? Asking yourself these questions can help you develop positive alternative thoughts. Remember: You deserve happiness.
  • You question your ability.
    You may be able to ask for what you want, and feel you deserve it, but still wonder if you are up to the task. Maybe you think you don’t have the talent or the leadership ability to get the job done. Look, most people learn on the fly. You have to just dive in and expect to make a few mistakes along the way. You will get the hang of whatever it is, soon enough.

  • You feel that you don’t have the time to take on anything more.
    Everyone I know who has successfully started their own business began working on it in their spare time. For them and many others, evenings and weekends are no longer spent in front of the television (except maybe during football season). You can spend your extra time building your dream. Anything you want to achieve is worth the extra work.
  • You tell yourself that there’s someone who is better than you.
    There will always be people who are better looking, or who have more money, higher degrees, greater experience, or more magnetic personalities. But they aren’t the same as you. You bring your own set of talents, your personal vision, and your values to any situation or relationship with which you’re involved. Trust that what’s inside you is as good as it gets. Now go for it.
  • You’re trying to keep a low profile.You may think that you shouldn’t stand out, because you’re afraid you might get hurt. Yes, successful people can become targets for others who are angry, misguided, or feel somehow inferior. But believing that if you’re successful, harm will come your way is a myth that was started by people too scared to reach for their dreams.
Don’t let yourself or anyone else talk you out of fulfilling your dreams.

by Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D.  

Friday, 9 January 2015

Selfridges and Primark Winter Haul 2014/2015

Happy new year guys! Hope you are all doing well.
This post features some of the goodies we purchased in the December/January sales. The primark items were bought in store while the Selfridges items were purchased online.

Primark beaded evening bag £10. Lovely and sparkly, costs over £25 in the other shops!

Primark mid length zip detail dress £13. This dress is actually bottle green but turned out black in the pictures. Will post another pic once worn. It is so smart, stylish and knee length at the front and slightly longer at the back. It has small slits at the side.

Primark tartan dress £5 reduced from £10. Also featured - 2 pack gloves for £1 and slimming leggings £4. I wear the dress around the house or at night, it is 100% cotton and ideal for these cold winter nights.

Selfridges haul. Look how protectively packaged each item is.

Fragrance lab perfumes in 248 and 249. £10 reduced from £45. One is musky with bergamont, the other is fresh/powdery. I think it's best to smell before you buy. The nail polish is azature red diamond nail polish. It was £3 reduced from £17. BARGAIN!

This sparkly azature nail polish in red contains a real black diamond!

Monday, 8 December 2014

10 Actions to Boost Self-Confidence

As Muslimahs, I think it's doubly important to have that extra bit of self-confidence what with the deen always being put down in the media and the local/wider community. I came across this post on:  which gives tips on how to be more positive as well as boosting your confidence.



10 Actions for Sisters to Boost Self-Confidence

One of the major barriers to productivity I often hear about when I meet sisters across the world, is the lack of self-confidence. I know from personal experience that is isn’t easy to develop confidence – some people are born with it, but I believe for most of us, it has to be developed and nurtured as we grow! I often have friends and family tell me I carry an aura of confidence about me; some wonder ‘what’s her secret?’ – it has has certainly taken some training! It is really disheartening to see Muslim women who are so talented, educated and ambitious thwart their progress and productivity because they have low self-esteem. I’d like to explore how we sisters can boost our own confidence with practical tips from the Qur’an and Sunnah.
Firstly, I want to remind you that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has honoured women, affording us rights more than 1400 years ago and endowing on us the opportunity to earn the highest stations in Paradise, through the various roles we play as daughters, wives, mothers and Muslimahs in our society. We only have to look to our historical examples of female scholars such as Aisha bint Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) to learn that achieving confidence is not a sign of arrogance or being against Islamic values. In fact, one can be confident in their faith whilst being a Muslimah in pursuit of her goals.
Remember, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says: “And We have certainly honored the children of Adam and carried them on the land and sea and provided for them of the good things and preferred them over much of what We have created, with [definite] preference.” [Qur’an: Chapter 17, Verse 70]
Let’s look at some of the ways I have learnt to personally conquer my fear and boost my confidence:

1. Have self-belief

As a Muslimah, if you don’t believe that you can achieve something, even if it’s a small task, this can impact your confidence greatly. The first step is to develop a positive mindset and have the belief that you are capable of doing what you set out to accomplish with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)‘s Help. This will take some internal work and will not be done overnight, but start by telling yourself that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) wanted you to be the best Muslimah you can be in every aspect of your life – this will get you on the road to developing confidence.

2. Use positive language

What kind of language do you use in your daily life, whether at work, home or in the community? Do you tend to use the words ‘can’t’, or ‘don’t believe’ or ‘not sure’ often in your responses? If you do, then perhaps you are using what psychologists call ‘self-limiting’ terms which can prevent you from being confident. Instead, try to say ‘I can do this’, ‘I will inshaAllah achieve’, or ‘I am capable of..’ as this kind of language will increase your positivity and give you a sense of self-belief.

3. Dump your negative thoughts

When negative thoughts and whispers enter your mind then remind yourself of the positive language. Don’t allow yourself to be put down by these thoughts, as this will prevent you from achieving your set goals. Try writing down negative feelings and thoughts, then tell yourself the opposite of what have you have written. For example, if you have written: ‘I can’t do this because I’m not good enough’, tell yourself ‘I will try to do this and I might actually be good at it’. If you let negative thinking sabotage your productivity, then you may feel regret later in life.

4. Write down a list of your strengths

One of the most powerful exercises I have done with my mentor on a regular basis, is to discuss and write my own strengths. As an example, I have written that I have ‘good interpersonal and communication skills’ and then written an example of when I proved this such as at an event when I met with someone new. This short exercise should take no more than 20-30 minutes but will serve as a great way to increase your confidence, especially when you are feeling down. Use this list of strengths to motivate you in whatever area of work you are focussing on.

5. Read up about confidence

Confidence is not something we are all born with, but it is certainly a quality we admire in people around us. Some are gifted with it, while others have a ‘quiet confidence’ about them which we may not always perceive. There are some great resources out there to help you with confidence; one of my favourites is ‘How to Develop Self-Confidence & Influence People by Public Speaking’ by Dale Carnegie. You can also search online for the many other tools and articles on why self-confidence is important especially in women, in both professional and personal capacities. Read up on the female scholars and pious women, and take lessons from their personalities and ways they handled their affairs – they are the best of examples.

6. Receive compliments gracefully

When I look back to my days of low self-confidence, I re-call compliments being vital to giving me a boost – especially when they were from people I respected, like my teachers. Some sisters on the other hand find it extremely difficult to receive compliments, and sometimes ‘defer’ them, so they put themselves down, instead of graciously thanking someone for their kind words. Although this should be carefully balanced with avoiding feelings of pride or complacency, accepting compliments when you’ve earned them can remind you that you have good qualities and traits to contribute. Respond to these compliments by saying ‘thank you, that’s very kind of you’ while acknowledging that you always have more to learn, to keep your humility.

7. Pursue something you are good at

There’s nothing more empowering than discovering you are good at something. Once you know what you are good at, you can gain a sense of self-fulfilment and maximise your confidence. For many sisters I meet, there are so many dreams and ideas they have, yet the environment or family expectations mean they are unable to pursue such activities. My advice is to keep trying until you are able to do this, it will in turn have positive psychological benefits for you and your family when you do what you love.

8. Network with new Muslimahs

Meeting new sisters is always a test of our own confidence as it can take us out of our comfort zone, but it is also a great way to improve your self-confidence by telling people about yourself. Before you go to an event, meeting or somewhere where you can network with people, think about the interesting things you like or have done to use as talking points. Hopefully it will ensure that the people you talk to have a interesting conversation with you and remember you as a confident Muslimah!

9. Be independent

Being able to do things without depending on others is a huge morale booster as it gives you a sense of empowerment and self-dignity. This may be doing something you haven’t ever done on your own before, like learning a new skill or practising a new hobby. For years I failed at driving many times before I passed! The ability to accomplish something completely independently will give you a real confidence boost.

10. Make this special dua

There is a beautiful du’a which encapsulates the need to always ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to help us improve ourselves in our faith and character. It is no easy task, and this du’a will give you the strength to be confident and productive Muslimahs!
(Moses) said: My Lord! Expand for me by breast (with assurance). And ease for me my task. And untie the knot from my tongue. That they may understand my speech.’ [Qur’an: Chapter 20, Verses 25-28]

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Umrah tips part 2: Performing Umrah & Shopping/travelling

Try to perform Umrah after Isha. I found this to be the 'least busiest' time. Others say after or before fajr.
Do tawaf upstairs as it is less packed. We did tawaf in the normal place once before fajr, it was packed. The men don't care they are pushing women less than half their size and we nearly got crushed. Yes. By men. Astaghfirallah. Some people have no manners even when right in front of Allah's house. I'm pretty sure a 6 foot 5, 10 tonne Arab man tried tripping me up from behind so he could push in and touch the black stone. Even in April, before Fajr we were not able to touch hajr aswad. That's how packed it was. I can not even imagine Hajj or Umrah during Ramadan.

Khaleejis (sorry, really trying not to generalise but it is mainly the gulf Arabs) do not comprehend the notion of queuing or waiting patiently for their turn. You will find this out when exchanging money, queuing at bin Dawood or queuing up for food. They ignore you or simply push or elbow you out the way without a care.

NOT ALL WATER IS ZAMZAM - look at the signs. Some say drinking water some say zamzam. The water tankers inside the Masjid al haram say zamzam so I would fill my bottles from there.

Madina has zamzam too! I never knew this, I thought you could only get zamzam from Makkah and was sad that we never got big bottles to bring back before going to Madinah,  but Alhamdulillah Masjid Nabi has zamzam water tanks inside YAY! You can also purchase 10litre zamzam bottles (packed in cardboard boxes) to bring back home. Make sure you write your name on all sides of the box when returning home as people may just take yours at the airport.

Wash your fruit with bottled water and make tea/hot drinks with bottled water.

Fill up on the hotels breakfast buffet. If you can, take a roll with cheese and salad and a yogurt to have for lunch as you may not feel up to walking about looking for a place to eat especially if you're fussy like me and don't want junk food broast chicken (which is everywhere!) or curry.

Make sure to fill up on breakfast and perhaps take a roll with cheese&tomato and a yogurt back with you for lunch to keep you going.

Shopping in Makkah & Madinah.

Bin Dawood is the main supermarket there. In Makkah there is one under the clock tower buildings and another branch to the right of the clock building, I think it's part of the Hilton shopping complex just after kfc. Let me know if I'm wrong. Bin Dawood sells everything from shampoo, juice, ice cream, chocolate dates, cheese, lassi, tea bags pots and pans, and fresh fruit. Defo go there for ice ream to cool yourself down after dhuhr or asr. And to stock up on fresh fruit and juices. I recommend fresh mango.

We stayed in the clock building - Movenpick hotel, hajar towers so alhamdulillah it was easy finding our way back compared to if we stayed in a hotel elsewhere. Mainly because my sense of direction is not one of my strong points. There are shops selling kids clothes, prayer mats, stands with ice cream and much more in the tower.

If you see something you like in Makkah, purchase it!. Everyone says Madina is cheaper-yes mostly true. But sometimes the quality is not as good. For example my sister purchased a beautiful prayer mat that comes with a matching bag for 35 rials (don't pay anymore than this price though, I'm sure other shops sell them for 30) it was really good quality. I got mine from Madinah for 20 rials but mine is thinner and of less quality.

Prayer mat from Makkah - Clock Tower. Thick material

Prayer mat from Madina - thin material

Buy abayas from Madinah. They were selling farashas in different colours for 50 riyal. I got a really nice button abaya with gold diamantes for 110 rial.

Gold and black abaya from Madina Taiba Centre.

Make use of Madinah market stalls for gifts - hijabs, tasbihs, Qur'an, perfumes, jewelry, kids clothing and sometimes abayas/jalabiyyas for under 20 rials! Yes under £4. Obviously they are factory rejects or may be slightly old in design or have a few threads sticking out or are an inch shorter than you'd like but they are an absolute bargain!!  Enjoy the stall holders shouting prices in Urdu - DAS RIAL lol

Cheap gifts for friends and family such as 12 tasbih for 10 rials, 12 itr for 5 rial, and a pack for men with a cap, tasbih and itr for around 2 rial.
You can buy gorgeous costume jewelry such as these rings for 5 rials each. The bangles/bracelets were from one of the many nearby shops.

The main shopping centre in Madina is the Taiba centre. Visit malik al oud for incense accessories. Alhamdulillah the Burmese worker is really fair and honest in his prices.

Travel by SAPTCO between Makkah, Madinah and Jeddah ( doesnt matter if its to and from Makkah and Jeddah as this is only 1.5 hours max) get tickets to a VIP SAPTCO bus if you can. They serve you a small meal and tea/coffee. It's nonstop and has a toilet. Maximum 30 people allowed and quite spacious. Costs about 90 rial or £15/person. Taxi drivers will charge you much more than this and some are known to be crazy or pervy so save yourself the hassle and use SAPTCO.

Air conditioned VIP bus with comfortable seating.
VIP bus breakfast meal from Makkah to Madina: Egg sub, water, fizzy drink.
VIP bus lunch meal box from Madina to Jeddah: Rice, Chicken nuggets, salad, apple, orange juice

That's all I can think of. InshaAllah this is of help to anyone traveling to Saudi. If you have anymore tips or questions please leave a comment!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Umrah/Hajj Tips Part One: What To pack

Salaams all,
as the Hajj season is upon us I thought it would be useful to post my tips as I went for Umrah a few months ago. I did initially have a post typed up in draft but accidentally deleted it :( sooo, inshaAllah, time permitting, I will type something again with pictures :)

I have compiled a list of what to pack as a general guide if any of you are thinking of going soon or in the future.

3 pairs loose trousers i.e harem pants or linen trousers.

3 abayas including the one you will wear to the airport. The abayas don't have to be black, there are people from all over the world wearing their own modest versions of traditional clothing including long skirts, shalwar kameez, maxi dresses etc. A good idea I found was a really long tunic or loose dress, 3 quarter in length (in between ankle and knee length) with loose trousers underneath. Why? Abayas are usually long and the bottom gets dusty and dirty real quick. Saudi is a desert country so lots of sand and dust about; plus you will no doubt be going to get zamzam water and the floors will be wet. Not only that but another good reason not to wear an abaya that's TOO long is to save from tripping up or people stepping on it.

3-4 light material hijabs. Nothing too thick. Not those maxi hijabs you get everywhere unless you will be wearing it in the evening. Choose any colour or print you like. Doesn't have to be limited to black.

Canvas bag/over shoulder drawstring bag to carry your shoes in. Don't leave your shoes on one of the racks in masjid al haram or masjib nabi - you won't be able to find them! Keep them in a bag on you at all times and place to your side on the floor when praying. Everyone does this.

Prayer mat - you can either take one or buy from Makkah or Madina. You won't always get inside the masjids to pray and if you do it doesn't guarantee a carpeted space i.e. you will be praying on marble so a prayer mat will make it easier/more comfortable.

Snacks: take crisps, biscuits, sweets. I wouldn't recommend chocolate as it melts. Keep some snacks in your bag at all times even when flying to the airport,  in Saudi as all the stories about Saudi airport workers/visa patrol are true. They are extremely S L O W and the queue won't move for at least an hour while they take their sweet time. Not only that but you may find yourself switching queues a few times and back. Organised they are not! The airport is not air conditioned so you may feel faint as my sister did, this is where snacks and some water will come in handy. Try to get some water from the plane - a bottle or small plastic pot.

2 pair flat comfy shoes/sandals with a good grip. Don't choose something with a completely flat sole as your feet will feel it with all the walking.

Sunglasses and sunscreen

Vaseline and mini first aid kit - plasters, sudocream, safety pins, bandage

Norethisterone - If that time of the month will fall around the time you go for Umrah or Hajj, see your GP for some medication to delay it.

Scissors and nail clippers - Ladies, you will need to cut a bit of your hair after performing sa'ee. We did this back at the hotel, there were many ladies who did it right after performing umrah but hair was on the floor which I didn't find hygienic.

Wipes - to clean your hands as well as shoes when they get dusty, and just for general quick cleaning on the go.

Toilet paper

Notebook to write down duas of those you are leaving behind as well as to keep a memoir of your time there.

Small travel spray bottle - fill with water (I filled mine with zamzam :D) keep in fridge and take out with you to spritz on face/hands/wrists to keep cool. If you can't manage to pack one, Bin Dawood sell some from 6 riyals.

Tasbih or u can buy it from there. Madinah has PELNTY. You can get a bundle for 10 riyals (under £1.50)

Take a couple empty water bottles to fill with zamzam. Your hotel may provide you with complimentary bottles of water - Movenpick did alhamdulillah.

Stay tuned for tips part 2!

Friday, 1 August 2014

Nailed it: How your fingertips hold the key to your health

Your nails can significantly contribute to the impression you leave on people. But they can say a lot more about you than just how strongly you take care of your appearance.
Research reveals that your hair and nails can be an indicator of your overall health. Healthy hair and nails have been linked to good nutrition. On the other hand brittle discolored nails and dull hair, among other conditions, can offer warning signs of malnutrition, infection and serious disease.
You probably don’t spend much time looking at your nails and hair. Abnormalities in these two areas often indicate illness in the body before the rest of the body will. Although nothing replaces a proper diagnosis from your doctor, read on to learn how to decode the signs of ill health.

Are your nails cracked, brittle, and quick to break? That’s often a sign of iron deficiency, anemia. However, if your tips seem to crack at the slightest touch, this could be caused by an underactive thyroid.
 White spots on nails, also known as milk spots, are ironically not signs of calcium deficiency. They are simply a result of minor injuries to the nail. In some cases, they are indicators of zinc deficiency. 
Pale nails, on the other hand, could be a sign of anemia. Inadequate oxygen levels in the blood can leave the tissue beneath your nails looking ghostly. More seriously, pale nails could be a sign of congestive heart failure and liver disease.
The thickening of nails, often combined with their yellowing, is usually a sign of fungal infection. In rare cases, yellow nails can indicate a more serious condition such as thyroid disease. 
Rippled or pitted surface of the nails can be an early sign of inflammatory arthritis or psoriasis.

 You are what you eat
  • While your nails aren’t a living part of your body, improving your inner health will affect their outer appearance. Before you invest in all those nail strengthening products and pills, follow these 10 simple steps to have strong healthy nails by improving what you eat. After all, you will be tackling the condition from the core.
  • Consuming a balanced diet abundant in fruits and vegetables, grains, dairy, meat, and good fats will provide you with the nutrients you need for strong healthy nails and prevent any nutrient deficiencies. Eliminating one of these food groups may disturb the balance.
  • Nails are layers of keratin, a type of protein. So, including protein in your diet, from meat, chicken, fish, and eggs, is essential for their strength.
  • Make sure to have one iron rich food source in your daily diet. You can try these foods: Pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, lentils, oatmeal, red meat, spinach, dark chocolate, and tofu.
  • Drink more water. It keeps your nails and hair hydrated. Aim for at least 8 cups daily.
  • Also, exercise regularly to relieve stress. Brittle, peeling nails are a common side effect of stress due to the rise of the stress hormone cortisole.
  • Vitamin B7 (biotin) can also reduce your body’s stress levels. Common dietary sources of biotin are bananas, beans, and whole grains.
  • Keep your thyroid regulated by consuming sufficient Iodine. It is abundant in dried seaweed, iodized salt, milk, shrimp and eggs.
  • Antioxidants can play a role in your nails as they can prevent dry weak nails and repair broken tissue. Antioxidant superfoods you should consider in your diet include berries, green tea, broccoli, cocoa, and avocados.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, amongst their countless benefits, promote nail health. This can be found in salmon, tuna, eggs, sardines, flaxseed, walnuts and almonds
  • Excessive alcohol drinking and smoking can have a negative impact on nail health. It keeps the liver strained as it excretes toxins from the body.
Now that you’ve been equipped with the right information, make a habit of checking your nails on a weekly basis.