Make room for the meaningful and let go of the vain

A New Year is here. It is that time of the year yet again to embrace change. We are optimistic people intrigued and looking forward to what the future holds. This new year I challenge my readers to embark on a journey which leads to a meaningful life. Are you set about to transform your life from fear to one grounded in confidence, from lack to living content, from anxiety to finding peace, from depressed to rooted in joy. If you are on a pursuit to happiness and good living then there are a few important questions you need to answer. Firstly, what are the foundations for how you live and the decisions you make? If you have an answer to this, and conviction to back the answer then you have found yourself meaning to live. The next question would be how are you fulfilling your purpose to this meaningful life?

This New Year I have decided not to chase after resolutions but to live by principles my best life, giving it my best. The first principle being I am created with a purpose to glorify my creator, so no matter what I do, let it all be done reflecting the greatest light. I am going to be authentic with no strings attached and no masks to fall behind. I will remember to love someone who is hostile and  who has wronged me and practice love when it is the hardest. I will choose to celebrate the life I live and remain content and remember not to compare. I will be intentional about investing my time to nurture my family and relationships. I will practice a culture of appreciation and bury up the urge to judge. I will veer away from negative thoughts and surround myself with abundant life. I will dust off disappointments and honor my beliefs by pressing on and conquering. I will live to inspire through my words and deeds.

This New Year I am out to live an unconventional life, a life beyond normal, a life filled with meaning and purpose, the life I was called to live. I invite you to discover a new life, a life worth living and a life worth dying for. Make room for the meaningful and let go of the vain.

Slay Your Dragon

I am excited to be back and to engage with my readers after a short blog break. The break was intentional as I decided to dedicate time to focus my attention on my start up. I have to admit that I have missed writing and hearing back from my readers. In this post I have decided to tackle one of the most common but rarely mentioned and discussed issue of 'Postnatal depression'. This past week I have had four new moms who approached me and shared their personal struggles and fight against this predator.The severity of this hit me when one of the moms mentioned she often fantasized about killing her baby and another stated how she shook her baby so hard in despair. This post is dedicated to my friends who have requested that I write as an effort to raise awareness and help reduce the stigma attached to this issue.

This subject is very close to my heart as I am one of those many million children who were caught in the whirlwind of maternal depression. My mother suffered severe postnatal depression after my birth and she has struggled with the effects of it since. I have not personally experienced the blues or depression with any of my pregnancies but I am well aware of the consequences that come along with the package.

Listening to the stories my friends had to share of their struggles in battling depression, I questioned why in the recent past this issue has become an increasingly common occurrence with new moms. I have realized that in our modern nuclear family setting with little or no help,the pressures of life added with balancing a home and getting used to a new baby can be one of the most stressful moments in the life of a woman. A combination of the above with the hormonal changes and many other changes to a new mothers lifestyle is a perfect recipe for depression. Many families suffer through this in silence as a result of lack of awareness or the stigma attached to mental illness. Through this post I attempt to tear down some social veils and offer facts on how common this phenomenon is.

Research states that 50 percent of new mothers suffer baby blues and one in every 10 new mothers suffer postpartum depression, which is a more serious condition.Postpartum depression results in intense feelings, and long lasting symptoms, which could occur anytime during the first year of birth. The symptoms could include intense sadness, anger, guilt, insomnia, fear of hurting you baby, lack of interest in things you enjoyed before etc. This requires support; counseling and early medical intervention. If you are reading this post and you are suffering through post partum depression you owe it to yourself and your children to get the help you need.

I have had many women address me as a 'Super mom' to which I have always responded I am no super mom. I have 3 boys aged 5 and under which is indeed a challenging age group to handle. I look at them as my most valued gift and source of investment. I try to give motherhood my best shot and to be there for my children. My honest confession is that there are many instances I have failed and made mistakes. As much as I enjoy home making and raising my kids, there are days with my boys around my home everything seems chaotic with broken sleep and an overwhelming sense of responsibility and a sense of inadequacy. A great learning that I have taken away is the understanding that there is no super mom or there will never ever be a perfect mother. Every mother needs the one and only super God and support from people around her to fulfill her call as a mother.

New moms i urge you not to come under pressure to be a super mom,to get everything right. My big advice is for you to relax your standards. It is more important to care for your wellness and for your baby than to get the home looking spotless or to prepare a fine dinner. Prioritize your sleep and eat healthy. Get out of your home and enjoy a walk in the park,coffee dates with friends ,shopping for yourself or indulge in any treat you would enjoy. There is nothing shameful about admitting that motherhood has taken a toll on you and you are finding it difficult to cope with the role.Seek help and delegate responsibilities. If you are suffering with symptoms leading to postnatal depression do not disregard your feelings and suffer in silence. Find courage to share with people you are comfortable with and count on your spouse. Learn to tune off the voices that says you are not getting this right. You are not a bad mother.You are finding your grounds and learning everyday as every mother does.

Your moment of breakthrough and healing is just around the corner. It will come with a combination of changing you’re thought patterns to reflect hope, caring for yourself and seeking a support group and medical help. There is a bright light and hope awaiting you. Never give up and never give in to this thick cloud. Choose to rise up, choose to be resilient, choose to slay your dragon.

Hands reaching out to save little hearts from under the rubbles of war

My aim with this feature is to expose you to a world of children robbed from their simple joys of adolescence lived out in carelessness, instead replaced by the horror of war, death and the in-exchangeable pain of loss. I am a mother of three and the thought of armed men gaining control over the destinies of innocent children, confining them to holes unfit for animals, infested with disease and the horrors of weapons used only by demented minds more so than the ones who created them, causes chills to the very core of my being. This feature is not about Politics, it's not about war, it's not about the colossal mistakes of the 21st century thought we live in… rather it's about those simple, innocent, highly impressionable minds of 7 and 8 year olds that were really just put here so someone would love them and nourish them, so that one day they would be devoted to their families and their communities, dreaming of a better tomorrow.

The conflict in Syria has been going on for more than 2 years with a mass influx of Syrian refugees pouring into Lebanon daily. It is estimated that 52.8% of the Syrian refugee population are children under the age of 18. This is largely a children's refugee crisis. These are children at-risk in part because they have already lost 2 years of formal education with nothing to do with their time. There is no opportunity to go to school for legal reasons. They are rejected and marginalized, at-risk children. The future for these children may look bleak, but in the midst of this chaos is a movement that shines the light in the darkness, committed to making a difference... I am honored to highlight the work of our dear friend Camille Melki and his organization ‘Heart for Lebanon’.

‘Heart for Lebanon’ was founded in 2006 with a vision to transform devastated communities in the Middle East, by providing physical and emotional care. Syrian and Iraqi refugees children have especially benefited from this organization, as they help them overcome the stress related to their situation and provide opportunities for education, welfare, and medical treatment. Through H4L, I have come across many gripping stories of families fleeing the violence that would also reveal how Syria’s civil war has impacted children.

I share with you the story of a divided family: the story of Ayham, Iman, and Hamza.

Ayham was just six years old when his life was forever changed. Growing up in the city of Homs in Syria, Ayham enjoyed a wonderful and secure life with his mother, father, older sister Iman and younger brother Hamza. But Ayham's family and neighbors weren't the only ones occupying their neighborhood in Homs; someone had moved in, someone unwelcomed. These unwelcome gangs find pleasure in what they can steal and whom they can hurt, armed with a reputation of kidnap, torture, and rape. On January 15th, 2013 a huge massacre took place in their neighborhood, killing many in the process. Ayham was forced to cope with the loss of his father, his innocence, and the only home he ever knew as his family fled the neighborhood. Ayham’s uncle accompanied them by foot to a camp located in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. With a lack of physical space in the camp, Ayham's mother was unable to seek permanent refuge in the Bekka Valley camp and was forced to once again uproot her family. Presented with no other option, Ayham's mother took him and traveled to Tripoli, a city located in North Lebanon, and settled in a camp there, leaving his sister Iman and brother Hamza to stay in the Bekka Valley camp with their uncle. To this day, Ayham and his mother are separated from his two siblings and receive little contact from them. Monthly food and hygiene portions are provided to Ayham's uncle and his family as well as Hamza and Iman by ‘Heart for Lebanon’. The children also attend the monthly educational program run by H4L in the Bekka Valley camp where they play games, sing songs, and undergo value-based education. It is the hope of Ayham and his mother that they will one day rejoin the rest of their family in the Bekka Valley camp, a dream that is yet to unfold into reality. For now they have a reason to live  as ‘Heart for Lebanon’ shines a great beacon light of provision and hope into their life..they are loved, they are sustained.

Within each initiative ‘Heart for Lebanon’ seeks to eliminate the dependency of those it serves and to restore their dignity in the eyes of the surrounding community and between them and their creator. I applaud them for their unshakable commitment towards the welfare and security of refugee children.h4l

We can do more than make promises. We can do a little and still ensure children like Hanan have access to an education, are able to stay in school, and gain the skills they need to flourish for generations to come. There are so many possibilities, but we must start acting on them. If you are lead to make a difference in one child’s life and uplifting a community of thousands, if you would like to contribute visit: http://www.heartforlebanon.org/

I hope to teach my children that the more they’re given, the more of a responsibility they have to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give shelter to the homeless and comfort the afflicted. Join me in a journey to teach the future generation to be more socially engaged individuals.….Onward to a better tomorrow,  better communities, a better World!