Pregnant and Stylish on a budget

With my first pregnancy, I started exploring my maternity fashion and budget options and below i share my findings. I should admit that i traveled extensively during my 1st pregnancy which also gave me an opportunity to score some great buys from across the globe.

              (This is a regular summer dress picked up on sale from American Eagle which cost AED 90/-) 

To Do's

1. Make an inventory of your closet-  Take a hard look at your closet to see if you own pieces of clothing in there that will work. A tunic or empire waist dress, flowing tops, stretchy pants, tights and leggings. 

2. Shop smart-  Consider shopping for outfits that are wearable post pregnancy too. Instead of shelling a fortune on maternity stores opt for your favorite high street store and look for clothing one size larger than your regular size. Pick button downs that will be beneficial post pregnancy for nursing, empire cuts, flowing and legging style.

3. Score the sales - If you've been eyeing all the exorbitant priced outfits on the window of a celebrated maternity store, wait before you take the leap towards a desperate purchase. You can still own at least a few. There is always a sale coming up.

4. Save up for an investment purchase- Allow yourself the opportunity to get extravagant on one or two baby shower, maternity shoot or a special occasion dress. Save up for it and shop guilt free. You absolutely deserve it! Splurge also on one piece of well fitted and comfyjeans, work pants or a good quality leggings. It will be used and reused and the money spent will add good value.

5. Hand me downs - If your bestie or a great friend has bid adieu to her maternity season you can always approach her and borrow her maternity clothes.  Ensure to take extra care and return them in good condition.

6. Choose good quality nursing bra's- For the last trimester i suggest that you invest in nursing bras that offer support and can be used after delivery for nursing. If you pick this early in your pregnancy, go for 2 sizes plus what you are currently. Choose silicon underwire or just a good support stitch. Do not opt for metallic and hard underwire's and heavy padding. Support and comfort is the name of the game. I collected mine on sale (in my first trimester) from Destination Maternity and Triumph.

7. Get colourful and accessorize- Do not limit yourself to drabs and neutral pallet. Alternating between colorful scarfs and a bright neckpiece can add variety and splendor to your block colored tees, topsand dresses.  Color and accessories add sparkle ,lifts your pregnant spirit and perks up any outfit.

Not to Do's

1.  Steer clear of carrying tiny hand bags- They make you look oversized . Opt for larger bags to complement your growing bump, but ensure to keep the bag light for comfort.

2. Avoid sporting crop jackets- They make you look like midgets who ate way too many cheeseburgers.

3. Abstain from baggy clothes - You can opt a size bigger, but baggy is just so wrong and does no justice to showing off your  pregnant curves. Its deceptive and makes you look like a tent, larger than you really are.

4. Refrain from short shirts that reveal the orb and hot pants that ride up-  It calls for constant adjusting and it steals the grace and charm of gazing at a beautiful pregnant lady.

5. Super High heeled footwear is a NO NO- However stylish it may sound, rocking in super high heels is not just dangerous to yourself and the baby but is painful, uncomfortable and makes you look plain funny. An inch and a half is the limit. 

6. Expensive stretch mark creams are just a marketing gimmick-  You do not have to fall into pressure of having to shell a fortune on those high end creams to avoid the marks. There a natural and effective substitutes such as olive, coconut or vitamin e oil. Drink lots of water and eat healthy which will boost your skin's elasticity and keeps you away from the marks.

Whatever your personal fashion preference may by, remember to adorn confidence and a smile. No matter what- you are BEAUTIFUL. You are carrying the greatest gift, the miracle of life. Look deep, there is beauty within you, let it radiate to the outward and make your spirit and fashion shine. Love being pregnant, Love being fashionable, Love being you!

Grieving Moms on Mothers Day

While there are many things i can chalk down, this is one of the hardest! How do mothers who have endured the greatest pain, a still birth, a miscarriage, a sunshine whose giggle and play they will never hear and behold again grapple with the absence and void in their heart. On Mothers day as we receive those cute cards and praises let's not fail to remember those mamas who we know are battling despair. I have been through three miscarriage myself and it was one of the coldest seasons I braved out. There have been days I have dreamed about holding my 3 little angels that never made it to earth, but some day will welcome me on the golden shores across the bridge. This mothers day i know of a few mommies who have endured the worst pain, who have held their precious children here in this world but will never again feel their warmth as they have gone too soon. I hold so closely in my heart all those recently bereaved moms. You may have another child, but that does not take away the pain of a great loss and mothers day may always remain as one of those bitter-sweet days to live through. I honor those incredible women who carry in their heart love and memories, who pick themselves up and live again. The tears in the dark, the cracks in the heart, one who has withstood the unthinkable and emerged as a survivor. To you i pay respect!

Remember to write a note or visit a grieving mommy-friend and acknowledge their mother-heart. Let them know they are loved, precious and that you care. A little support can go miles to brave the hardest of days.

Cocoon to Butterfly presents 'Raising Arrows'

The Blog 'Cocoon to Butterfly'  hosted its first conference on wholesome parenting 'Raising Arrows' on April 16th 2016, at the Cartoon Art Gallery. The key note speaker was Andalene Salvesen a.k.a  Super Granny, an internationally acclaimed parenting coach, speaker and author. The event was planned and coordinated by the event planning service 'Sherrie's Lounge'.

Shooting an arrow to a precise target requires developing skill, so it is with raising children, except these arrows will be the pillars of a nation, the voice of our collective future. The mission of the blog is to Encourage and Empower Moms with practical help and much needed cheering on to take on the most important yet challenging role of a mother. 

The conference saw mothers from different walks of life in attendance, returning as mothers with purpose... equipped with effective tools and practical steps to be the nurturers they were made to be! The second part of the conference is scheduled for July 2016.

The Power of a Dream

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“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream” C.S Lewis 20-year-old Zahra Lari, is a dream chaser and an Olympic figure skating champion hopeful, from the United Arab Emirates. As a young girl she was enraptured by the Disney movie, ‘Ice Princess,’ and soon became interested in pursuing figure skating. Her optimism drove her to reach for her personal summit, choosing to challenge the perception many have of women in the Middle East. Sheik Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai is committed to empowering women and supporting them in their pursuit. He said and I quote “Arab women make up half our community. They are sometimes better than men. Today they are rising to greater heights in society and able to achieve goals within our communities. They will only grow”

I was extremely fortunate to have attended the ‘International conference for Sports for Women’ in Abu Dhabi. While I was there I had the privilege to meet and interact with many accomplished Emirati women. One of the more notable experiences was listening to Zahra Lari. In her speech she mentions how her father initially viewed her newfound interest of figure skating skeptically. Her mother however stood in the gap to convince him to let their daughter live out her passion. Later when he accompanied his daughter and as he watched her joy displayed on ice he became her greatest supporter… She may not have started young as many promising skaters did, but this did not stop her from taking a leap and carving her mark.

Today Zahra Lari is dubbed the ‘Ice princess in Hijab’ by the media. She is not only the first figure skater from the Gulf to compete in an international competition but the first to do so wearing the hijab, paying due respect to her Arabic culture. In a frozen sea of flashy tutus and nude tights she is a princess who graces the ice with a difference, wearing modest costumes and a headscarf. Zahra is a woman who embraces her morals and values while identifying herself as a professional athlete. This is a celebration to all women who embrace culture and stand against the tide of commoditizing women.

Apart from wanting her own success, Lari added: “I want to encourage girls from the Emirates and the Gulf to achieve their dreams too, and not to let anyone tell them not to do sport, not only figure skating but all sports.” Zahra is a role model for women in the Middle East and an inspiration to those who wish to pursue their dreams. Her drive and determination to win after having to face many obstacles embodies her as a true champion. She is a testimony to the pay-off that comes along with perseverance and dedication to chase after a dream. I wish her the best, as the United Arab Emirates hopes of a medal would be set on the young shoulders of Miss Lari who is looking to make her mark at 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Video credits to HealthX

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUSXTV4A87s

The power of a story

The Middle Eastern woman is stereo typed by the Western and Eastern world as one suppressed, powerless and vulnerable. Having lived in the UAE for the past 12 years I strongly disagree. In my interactions with the Emirati woman, I have known her to be ambitious, accomplished and progressive. Today powerful Emirati women represent a force in their country as key partners building the future of this nation - one we have all come to love and call home. I salute a few whom I have had the pleasure of interacting with and whose stories I am certain will inspire women and leave us fired up to achieving incredible dreams.

For Suad Abdulla a young Emirati Running enthusiast, running alone did not motivate her and left a void deep down. She became distraught with this disturbing thought, which led her to start the first ever-female running club called ‘She Runs Dubai’.  She used the social media to spread her passion for fitness to the rest of the Arab community. This created a stir in the social media front as many like-minded women were waiting for an invitation such as this. Today the group is ever-growing and has a large number of Arab and expat women meeting twice a week for a run in many scenic locations around the UAE. This has given Arab women a platform to pursue running and fitness without the discomfort of being in a mixed gender environment. Suad’s role in founding this movement is a significant force in shaping women’s fitness revolution in this region.

Suad and i at HealthX Forum

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Farah Al Qaissieh started stuttering from the age of 5. In our conversation the 25-year-old Emirati tells me growing up through school years was one of her most trying times. When she reached university she made up her mind to bring about a change to her life and those around her, by challenging her circumstance and conquering her fears. Spurred from her own experiences she founded a non-profit organization called 'Stutter UAE', which aims to bring stutterers together to interact, share experiences and stories. This group has emerged in being a beacon of hope in this nation providing opportunity to speak freely and live fearlessly. As I spoke to this gracefully confident woman who stutters occasionally, I was left captivated by her courage and eloquence. Farah is also the driving force and founder behind a mobile app called 'Discover AE', which is under development. She disclosed to me that it is an app based treasure hunt that let people discover the hidden gems of the city.Farah is the UAE Ambassador for ‘WeAreTheFuture’, a global youth entrepreneurship organization. This inspiring and driven wonder woman is also mentor in several programs. Such programs include, ‘e7 banat al emarat’ – a program inspiring young females to develop initiatives to benefit their communities, and ‘Flat6Labs’ – a startup accelerator in Abu Dhabi.

Farah and i at Women in Leadership Economic Forum 2015

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I believe in the power of a woman’s story and the pursuit of her dreams. These stories inspire and motivate a generation to rise above. In this series my focus is to celebrate women in this region who have risen against all odds. I honor these trail blazers whose initiatives and tireless efforts continues to touch lives and impact their world. There are more inspiring stories on the horizon. Watch this space!

 

 

 

 

A call to India's Fathers and Mothers

In the wake of India’s Rape tragedies as I sat down to read the numerous articles written on the incidents and after watching BBC’s controversial ‘India’s Daughter’ I questioned, Why do individuals stoop down to become bloodthirsty unbridled vipers? Loathing over the state of our nation and admonishing the crimes is an easier path to protest, but it will never bring about a sustainable change. As responsible citizens and as India’s fathers and mothers, what can we do to make a difference? How do we preserve the sanctity of our daughter’s life’s and woman’s rights? I am India’s daughter and I am proud of my origins but not of India's shame. There is a little bit more of an Indian in me, hence it drives me furious and causes pain when a fellow Indian daughter is wronged. My first reaction to all these incidents was to castrate the rapists. Then I questioned my way of thinking and realized that capital punishment or castration just does not cut it. It instills fear to a certain extend but it will not stop the growth of the many sick minds breeding in our societies committing such crimes. This needs to be nipped at the bud. When you hear of all these men who committed these ruthless crimes you often wonder what lead them to this stage. A common thread in all of this- the Family and the environment in which they grew. Most of these individuals who are involved in these barbaric cannibal acts have not been raised in secure homes with a strong role model. They have been deprived of quality love and security. This explains the reason why they naturally gravitate towards evil.

In our society a woman often wades through sexual battles starting from her home and her surroundings. It comes as no surprise that rape statistics in our country proves that there are a rising number of female and child victims than male victims. Ever wondered why you do not hear about men being raped in a bus by women or in their homes by aunties. These prevalent ruthless incidents are resulted by a mindset reinforced by a society or culture that believes men dominate and women are objects of inferior status. This is a sickness that needs to be eradicated with just as much focus given as the nation did for the Polio eradication program. The very first step to deploy a strategy of eradication begins at every Indian home.

I grew up in my home where my father was never overbearing but modeled love and respectful behavior towards my mother and myself. There was no distinction as a daughter, I am celebrated in my home and given equal opportunities as my brother. Growing in a culture of respect and equality has definitely paid off well to mold my brother’s character. I have noticed in various occasions how my brother treats his women friends with courtesy and how he displays old-fashioned chivalry and values such as stepping aside so a woman goes first. I am a mother of 3 growing boys and in my home my husband and I are committed to our in-house project called ‘Rearing Gentlemen’. When one of our boys makes even the slightest playful gesture and hits a girl,  my husband and I are quick to correct and to reiterate that it was a shameful move and they should remember to behave as gentlemen.

I call out to every Indian mother and father to nurture a generation of boys that will tear down this rape culture. These little boys are the father’s and the protectors of the future. Foster knowledge in them of the value of empathy, kindness, compassion, respect and honor towards every human being irrespective of gender, color and social status.

Instill in them that the strong takes care of the weak and to be brave is to have a voice for the voiceless. This is the mark of a 'Masculine Man'. In our nation it calls for the primary institution of 'Family' to mold boys into men and guardians of our future. This is the first step to a sustainable change. Rise up India’s Father’s and Mother’s to this call of duty.

 

Gloriously Fashionable

  I just returned from a fabulous short holiday in my hometown. Whilst on this trip i had the opportunity to meet up with some young women. In conversation with them I was amused to learn that they follow my Facebook page to see how I am styling it. I am no fashionista or fashion guru. I am just another girl who loves all things pretty and suave. My first job was with Vogue Institute of Fashion Technology Banglore, as a Trainer in computer aided Design and Pattern making. This is my only claim to the fashion industry. I had moved on from there to pursue a career in aviation. They have both been fulfilling careers in their own way and good opportunity for growth. Through this column i aspire to share my style and passion for fashion with my audience.

Unfading fashion to me is something that cannot be bought. It is priceless! It stems from the heart and it consists of grace, poise and much more.  My number one tip on feminine fashion- The best accessory to adorn on a daily basis is a smile and a gentle spirit. This sense of style is classic, timeless and of great worth.

Forgive me if I step on a few toes as I burst a few bubbles on some fashion misconceptions. I speak from my personal experience of having lived this huge lie. A large number of women believe that only designer labels or a brand name indicates ‘Fashionable’. I have learned that this is painfully wrong. You do not have to buy every single designer piece dished out to you by the media at every changing season, to look fashionable. Do not get me wrong, I absolutely love a large number of designer labels and I own quite a few designer goods myself. I love them for their quality and their unique style. I say if you can afford them go get them. However do not be a slave to fashion where you are constantly giving in to your obsession of rocking all the latest trends and as a result you end up downhill on your financial road.

The biggest fashion misconception i have come across is 'Dare to Bare or Go Nude' to ooze appeal. I like to redefine this statement by saying 'Modesty is the hottest trend'.

Another common misconception is that limited resources or budget living holds you back from looking fabulous. This is a plain white lie. You can look stylish and stunning even on a shoestring budget. The secret is to learn to be ingenious and smart. Dive into your closet and experiment with mixing and matching your clothes. Bring out those accessories that have been buried and hardly worn. Define and create your personal style and nail it. In my next segment I will be sharing some practical tips to look stunning and fashionable. Remember to shine gloriously fashionable from within.

Beauty in your Identity

December last year and February this year I had the privilege of speaking at a career day event and a special event organized by two prominent schools in the city of Sharjah and Dubai. I was invited to speak on the topic of ‘Identity and discovering what you are called to do in Life’.  ‘ A sense of shame and self-loathing towards ones own body is a huge phenomenon prevalent especially among teenagers and young adults. This resonated with me to an extent because as a teenager I remember spending countless hours in front of the mirror trying to change my color or looking for ways to change my nose to be more appealing and beautiful. It stemmed from an urge to feel more admired and adored.  It lasted only for a very short span of time. Those thoughts have become a distant memory from the past and I can say boldly that today I stand as a confident woman who believes I am created beautifully. I come from a home where I was affirmed, appreciated and shown much love. This has also played a significant role in enabling me to think and see clearly beyond beauty that is skin deep. But this ‘Identity issue’ is a common culture and typical teenage angst that chokes and bottles up young minds. Today more than ever there is a prevalent cultural bias towards perfect bodies and perfect faces. This is as a result of social media, magazines and television promoting the same.  We cannot stop the media from objectifying women but we can stop ourselves from wanting to look like every top model and actress we see. I am not against cosmetics or beauty routines. On the contrary I love fashion and make up. . With the right technique and application of make-up you can enhance your beauty and express your unique style. What I do not agree with is the idea of living in a false world where women are afraid to age gracefully. A growing number of women are pressured to physically Photoshop themselves to feel accepted.  My message to you is do not let your self-esteem and your wellness be determined by the media or the cover pages. Striving and struggling to be like anyone else is a waste of time and a waste of the person you are.

Take a deep breath; learn to appreciate the beauty that is bestowed on you. You are uniquely beautiful just the way you are. You are original, a copyrighted edition and a masterpiece created by a master craftsman. You have a unique purpose for which you are created. Embark on a journey to discover this purpose and become the person you were created to be. When you learn to embrace your creator and your uniqueness, you have given yourself a chance to discover your purpose in life. Grow in love with the one who created you and grown in love with the BEAUTIFUL YOU!

sneha