Religion has played its role in my life, most significantly during the last couple of years. I guess it has been a journey for me. I would like to think that I grew up in a mixed family; 50% of my roots are arabic and the other half cypriot. Extrapolating from that, there is a 1:2 chance that I would either grow up to be Muslim or Christian Orthodox.

Religion did not bother me much until a teacher of Religious Education-yes we have those where I grew up- descriminated me in front of the class. I can still remember him asking me outloud: “You are the Maronite, aren’t you?” I looked at him puzzled; at that time I didn’t know what that even meant. I thought he was asking for my surname…  I did not give the incident much thought then but I flashbacks came back of the same scene, when the actual Maronite entered the class. And I knew her surname was not “Maronite”. At that point, I decided to research it and realised that it was just an ethnoreligious minority in Cyprus.  Maronites are a Catholic Christian entity, whose name comes from St. Maronas, an eremite living in Syria. A fellow student the actual Maronite, was eventually excused from class as we were going to go deep into Orthodox Christianism for the rest of the year. It was not spectacular, let me tell you that. We ended up memorising prayers by heart in order to get a good grade. Ironic how the government can blindfold children like that. Needless to say, by the end of the year I wish I had answered “Yes” to his initial question…

In my need to understand what Christianity really is, I religiously went to church during Easter time, following all the rules and listening to the chanting of the psalms to Jesus, God, Mary and the Holy Spirit. The language was hard to understand, the smell in the church was rather whoozy and the whole atmosphere felt rather heavy. People knew when to bow their heads, when to say “Amen”, when to pray along. I was lost and felt like a stranger. I stuck through it because I wanted to understand. I still remember that Easter morning, when all the black vails fell down from the icons and everyone started banging their chairs in order to let everyone know that Jesus has risen. I must say the effect was dramatic and caught me by surprise. I did not expect a sudden burst of chaos and panic in the heavy, sad atmosphere I had experienced in the past couple of days. After that I got REALLY into it. I started asking that teacher numerous questions. He gave me answers which in the end somehow did not make sense and other times contradicted each other. I was not convinced.

As time passed, I only went to the obligatory gatherings at the church organised by the school. These were typically taking place either when the school year began or before the bigger events, like Christmas and Easter. For me God at the time was no one religion. God was synonymous to love in my mind back then. The rest I did not know or cared to know. So I became agnostic. This belief carried me through university.

In the mean time, my sister had converted to Islam. I cannot say I was taken aback, as she was even more confused as I was and even got into trouble for expressing her mind back in school. She said she felt at peace once she converted. I accepted that no questions asked but was not intrigued to understand Islam until we were in Cyprus during Ramadan time. I had asked her some questions in order to understand what Ramadan meant and why she was doing it. She explained as well as she could. Later I asked her to send me a copy of the Quran.

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Photo by abd ulmeilk majed on Pexels.com

When I was even younger, we used to visit the rest of the family, my dad’s palestinian family, who are living in Jordan. I would see my grandpa or grandma kneeling on the floor, then standing back again whilst whispering arabic. I felt that they were experiencing a unique moment and I were not to disturb them. Again, did not understand what was happening. My aunt at the time was trying to explain to me in broken English what was going on. I guess she did not know the word “pray” and kept repeating “Salah”. Dad explained it to me in the end. The holy time with Allah happened often and I had to become 28 years old to really grasp the concept of Islam.

Some people choose to believe that we all learn something from every relationship in our lives. I came even closer to Islam because of a rather dysfunctional relationship. So, once it finally ended and after a rather long illness, I had realised that Islam and the retrospectively scant knowledge I had gained about it was the positive outcome of all the suffering. I visited the nearby Mosque, met with the Imam, asked questions and now I am learning arabic because  I want to understand the Quran as best as I can. Once I converted to Islam, I felt free and at peace. My religious journey is still ongoing and I am definately not the best example of a muslim woman, as I am still learning. That might be offputting or even unexeptable to some. Personally I do not care what others think of me; I accept myself as is. I realise this when I am praying, especially during the days of Ramadan. Sometimes I do get distracted and do not feel the deep connection with Allah. Other times during the day I might say or do things that Allah or other muslims might not approve, i.e. I choose not to wear a headscarf or cover my body as intended. And yes, I do not hide away during Ramadan when I can eat during my period. There are things to contemplate upon, there are others where I am learning to cross a red line.

All in all, I am getting better at it. If I were to compare only the physical and mental part during the last 3 Ramadans I can say there has been significant progress. During the first year I was simply accompanying my sister during her journey. I was doing experimentally to feel what she was going through.  Of course, by the afternoon I started having a headache, nausea, dizziness, and extreme tiredness. I ended up with having something to eat and rest. The second time around I had already been converted. I believe that this along with praying gave me the mental strength to begin and move forward. As for this year, it seemed to be a piece of cake on the physical part, I was more focused on the mental part. This was actually pointed to me by a dear friend of mine and that reminded me that when faith and connection are there, everything is possible. Other priorities seem now to be more important, like the intention to  connect better with Allah and learn some so-called “Duas” and prayers by heart. It is also my intention and goal to fast every Monday and Thursday.

woman wearing blue hijab
Photo by Edy Kurnia on Pexels.com

Ramadan feels like a new beginning for me. It is like a second New Year’s Day. As I see it, it builds discipline, mental and physical strength, faith, gratitude and appreciation for the simple things in life, like water. Once it comes to an end, one feels proud for himself and stronger than the last time. Any intentions, wishes, goals and dreams are clearer and willpower is more solid and robust than before. I wish that to all of us, and mostly to the ones that feel lost either in their hearts or minds. 

Dedicated to someone special in my heart

 

Now it is up to you! What is spirituality for you? How does it look like? What religions or spiritual thoughts intrigue you?

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I have finally finished my coaching diploma with Noble Manhattan Coaching! I feel a sense of pride, a sense of accomplishment, a sense of relief!

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It is not often that I feel this sense of achievement to be honest. The last time I felt it was when I graduated from medical university. But I can re-feel it again, and it feels so fulfilling.

I am so pumped up right now that I have decided to review my goals for 2018. I know, most people tend to do this in December or January, especially when a new year is daunting upon us. It makes sense, true. And studies have shown that about one in ten will actually complete or at least maintain their New Year’s resolutions.

So today starting with this sense of new achievement, I want to help you guys achieve the same sense of achievement if that is what you are looking for. One way to feel this is by completing a goal or project that means something to you.

It is, hence, important, that whatever you set your mind to, is in complete congruency with your base: your VALUES. Each of us has values, some might know them my heart, others might have written them down. Yet, there are others- like me, 2 years ago- that do not really understand what values are all about and what they mean.

Put simply values are our thumbprint, who we are, our worth. 

Knowing your values can truly be liberating. Life is on all levels easier once you acknowledge and prioritize yours values. All of a sudden, decisions are done faster and feel easier, life seems to be less complicated, more fulfilling and happy. Values help you pull instead of push energy, and help you act and flow more naturally. You see clearer and can filter through the meaning and importance of experiences more efficiently. Once you drill them down they act as a catalyst to improve your motivation and your mindset. Goal-setting, mission and vision are clearer, closer and more achievable than before.

“By allying our everyday actions, decisions and behaviour with our values, we feel a sense of effortlessness, ‘being in the flow’.”, NMC

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A value is usually an abstract, non-countable noun. Family, for example, is not a value because we can count who is in it. The tricky part is to find what lies behind the family that is important for you. It might be security, it might be love, it might be belonging. A values list might help give you some ideas. What is more significant, though, is to allow yourself to express your value in words and phrases that resonate best with you.

Once you have nailed down on your values, prioritising them is even more important. I have done a “Values elicitation exercise” and prioritisation both on my own, as well as with the help of a coach. Amazingly, what came out with the help of another person was more striking and closer to my heart.

It is also wise to re-evaluate your values occasionally. We grow, we experience new things, we learn. What was important two years ago may not be of such a significance now. I especially suggest this with clients that are chronically stressed or overwhelmed or are having a grand difficulty with making a decision.

A “Values elicitation exercise” with a Life Coach can help you achieve wonders.

All my clients have experienced the feeling of surprise, relief, excitement, or one of those magical “aha” moments, that encourage me to stay in the business of life coaching and help more people.

Here is a site that can help you set your own values using neuro-linguistic programming. Make sure you get down to about 10-13 values before starting the prioritization process.

Below, is my current list of values. I hope me sharing it, inspires you in one way or another. 

  1. Grace/Openness/Honesty/Connection
  2. Love/Devotion/Faith/Trust
  3. Integrity/Respect
  4. Freedom
  5. Fun/Playfulness/Creativity
  6. Security/Stability
  7. Growth/Curiosity
  8. Peace/Clarity/Balance
  9. Vitality/Youthfulness
  10. Impact/Service
  11. Courage/Vulnerability

Now it is your turn! I am curious to know about your values, what you think values mean, and if you know what your values are. Want help discovering them? Get a coach!

Appointment booked. I’m all set. Coach me!

$250.00

We are all considered to play to our strengths. I do many things quite well- not that I am bragging about it, I was just born this way. Or at least that’s what I would like to think… lol

This year I realised how important it is to allow myself to discover things. If I am drawn to them, effortlessly, when doing so time is of no concern, then it means I am enjoying it.

This is how it has been for me with planning and organising. Nowadays my sister says that this has grown to be an obsession.

I could always see what the day has in store for me, and this with no planning, no goals, nada. Wake up, work, eat, sleep, rest, repeat. And I can frankly admit I was not enjoying that period of my life. I was spending awfully long, dreading hours at work, had no hobbies, no interests, I was mostly either stressed or bored: two yucky places to be in.

I was half way into that job and I knew I was unhappy. But I guess it had primarily nothing to do with the work itself, rather than the fact I couldn’t manage my time well enough to have life out of the workplace! After all, the main reason I moved to Basel was because there was a multitude of Flamenco classes I could choose from, and numerous other cultural events I could go to after work. Yet, I seemed to find no time for them.

It eventually hit me on a Friday afternoon at around 17 o’ clock. I remember it was December, one of those holy days. My colleague had just closed the office door. I heard him saying “Goodbye, happy holidays!” in the background of my inner dialogue. Work was piling up but I thought “I can either stay here and finish before it piles up, or I can just go home and reconsider what and how I have been doing things.” For the first time during then, I decided to put me first, go home and figure out what I want to do; basically, reflect and in doing so master a plan that could get me as soon as possible out of the stress and the boredom and get me to a place of peace, balance, fun, growth and inspiration.

And so I did.

2017 has been more productive and fuller of happier moments because of this. I could make time to find a better job, I had time to take up Flamenco and Salsa classes, and even study for a life coaching diploma. Now 2018 is going to be even grander! Through life coaching I allowed myself to immerse even more to escalating my own personal development. My study buddies, the NMC, and my coach with Anthony Robbins (Cristina Donadio– adore you hon!) have helped me figure out what my values and goals are, where I am, where I want to go, what actions I need to take and where my strengths lie. This was truly a revolutionary time.  By raising my awareness to all these attributes, I now know where I am, what I want and where I wish to go. Life is effortless, more fun and more energetic!

One of my weaknesses, however, has been time management. You see, I am rather an ultrasocial person. I feed on the energy from people. I did not know that. I used to push energy by being in the office and finishing up administrative things, wasting my time, feeling tired and alone. Now, I pull energy from people and the administrative things can be done faster and easier.

In order to keep me on track and balance time and people management I have decided, late last year, to invest in a planner. I have used online scheduling apps, like Google Calendar, Outlook Calendar, Cozi, TimeTree, but I needed to write things down. By doing so, I knew that I was more likely to stick to the plan. So I decided, to do my research. My research is still ongoing (and it has been 7 months already!). I could not find something that can satisfy my needs. My expectations from the ULTIMATE planner had been so high, I couldn’t find the ONE.

I can see the advantages and disadvantages of every planner. I have tried the free version of the Passion Planner but it was too much black and white, too formal for me. One of my first values is fun and this planner was not resonating with me.

Previous to that, I had tried creating my own planner based on what I could find from the InnerGuide. I liked the format but felt that there was tiny space, and creating a planner every month on my own was not an attractive solution on the long run. Oh, and trust me! I tried ordering it, but hit a wall because it could not be delivered to Switzerland. And, sorry I am not sorry but this girl does not like using PayPal.

You may say, “Create your own, start a bullet journal!” Again, no time for this… At least, at the moment. 

I had heard of Erin Condren (EC) planners, looked up some videos on YouTube and I could immediately resonate with the design and the stickers. It was all about making planning and organising FUN! Even before purchasing it, I knew that it would definitely need some upgrading. So, once it had arrived- took approximately two weeks- I knew the pros, and it was time to add my plugins! 😀 My mom was witness to the set-up, she can confess to all my excitement! And every time I am planning the week, I hear her words ringing in my head: “I have never seen you like this, you are acting like a little kid!” Guess what?! That’s the feeling I want to have when planning! Goal achieved!

Below, I have taken some pictures of my EC. I decided to combine the EC design with the beautiful insights from Passion Planner (quotes, habit tracker, space of infinite possibility, water tracker, personal & work to-do list), take my three yearly goals from my coaching, add some life planning tips from the Law of Attraction Planner, Passion Planner and InnerGuide, insert some gratitude ideas from the Happy planner, have work and personal life all in one (as advised by life-coaches and LinkedIn learning videos), bring in some light and vision with stickers, washi tape, my scrapbooking, origami, hand lettering and watercolor skills and… The meal planner, emotional tracker and gratitude planner are at the back pocket of the planner- and they fit perfectly!

Plan! Fun! Done! Voila!

I hope this blog has inspired you to think of how a planner can help improve your life, get organised and yet spare some time to be spontaneous. Go for it, be creative, craft and upgrade it to your taste and remember… live life to the fullest!

On to you!

Are you just as fascinated as I am with planning? Do you have a planner? If yes, got any extra tips or ideas? If not, are you open to trying planning out? Below, I am linking the planners I have tried and some that have tempted me to try out, have a look!

Now, I can see how girly the EC planner might be. Do you guys have any planner options for men- like Benjamin? Do you think that spontaneous people have a plan (consciously or unconsciously)?

On a last note, I cannot tone enough how important life coaching was to me. Find out your values, your vision, your goals, where you are, where you want to go and how you are going to get there. If I peeked your interest, do not hesitate, contact me to discover more!

7 Planners that tempted me:

  1. Erin Condren
  2. Passion Planner and its downloads
  3. InnerGuide
  4. Law of Attraction Planner
  5. The Happy Planner
  6. Ban.do Planner
  7. Kikki-K Planner 

(more…)

Dedicated to my sister, Andrea

Lately, I was inspired by a friend of mine, let us call him Benjamin, to delve more into the topic of philosophy. He, himself, is one of those people you meet, with whom you can talk about anything and anyone! If you do not know such people, I urge to scout for one, and hold auditions, the more the merrier! I found myself being attracted to this kind of knowledge, maybe him as well 😉

pexels-photo-623046.jpegAfter a long day’s work, I usually have time to explore the small, cute kiosk in the main train station of Basel. This one is a bit bigger than your normal kiosk. Entering it, you see stands of colourful, categorised magazines, newspapers and books, knowledge written in German, English, French, Spanish or Italian. When I enter it, I feel little sparks of curiosity  bubbling around my head. 

One day, as I was in the kiosk, my eyed dropped on Philosophie Magazine, written in German. In my head, I could hear Benjy rambling about what democracy and meritocracy are and if they really exist.

pexels-photo-803844.jpegWhat intrigued me was of course the theme. The writers in that issue were exploring “Where does New come from?” and if new even exists. They dived into it by analysing and deepening opinions of past and new philosophers. I had decided not to buy the magazine. I wished to figure out an answer that is true to me, without any input or bias from others. Since then, questions like, “What is new?”, “Does New exist?” started bombarding my brain.  Personally, this would have never been a question I would ask myself, yet I found myself really searching for the answers, any answer! And the weeks were running faster than a peregrine falcon!

And so began the long, sometimes frustrating, other times confusing, and the rest of times inspiring story of defining what is new and if it really exists or not.

We call something old. This infers, therefore, that it used to be once new. As we were born in this world we were new to this world, and getting old with every fraction  of a minute. Yet, according to the CIA World Factbook and indexmundi.com there are 258 worldwide births per minute or 4.3 births every second (2016 est.) (PS: here you can find a live count of babies born www.theworldcounts.com)

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So being born or having birth is actually quite old, we have been propagating forever! Now, I can imagine a mother reading this and getting furious at what I am saying but looking at this objectively, couldn’t it be true? It might be. It is such a wawawoom statement to make, just to shake the waters. Believing it, however, breaks my heart and destroys my spirits. It is so contra-intuitive to exclaim such a thought! Even when I was writing it down, I felt a bit upset and sick inside. Vomitus alert!

After weeks of deliberation, confusion and so forth, I had decided to buy the magazine for some clarity. Something inside of me, till this day, does not allow me to open it up and read. So, I chose to discuss the topic with friends and colleague.

Benjamin came to the rescue! He gave me a clearer, more hopeful, inspiring and positive piece of his thoughts. He was looking at me curiously, almost weirdly suspiciously and gave me a little smile. He took a breath and said in a rather “I know it all” voice: “Being born might be nothing new to the world, unless you make it mean something. You being born to the world was new to your parents and you! The first time you ate, talked, walked was new to you and your environment.”

Suddenly, I had realised it all has to do with how we perceive the world and what kind of meaning we put to things and events that occur. “The Idea, the Power of New exists in relation to our perception!”, I exclaimed in brightness!

Hmm, doesn’t then everything and the meaning we allow and choose to give to anything happen in relation to our perception?

Now, now… That is enough food for our brain! And you guessed it! It’s your turn! When was the last time a magazine fascinated you? What magazines would you be interested to buy?

Be like Benjamin, be courageous and share a piece of your mind, even your opinion on “New” 🙂 I am curious to know what you think!