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!