What is your story of strength?

I could narrate at least a couple of different stories.  Some take place at sea, in the dessert, others in the valleys between the mountains and the ocean, and so on.  Some stories happen as a young, naive girl, and others as fairly-weathered woman heading towards middle age.  But ultimately, I come to believe that strength is a daily decision.  And the more we decide to be strong, the more we become it.  Examples range from simple to complex – decisions on what to eat, and whether or not you should continue to have faith.  Period.  If I set a health goal that is important to me, I need to recall why it’s a priority, and be strong to resist tempting sweets and treats among so many other sinful things.  This relates to having faith… Keeping my faith strong daily in terms of being on the right track (so that I feel less of a need to sabotage that track by succumbing to current – often fleeting emotions or doughnut cravings!).  And being strong enough to keep the faith that sometimes – things just take time.  Patience.  There is no race.  Just continue to do the best you can. Anyway, that’s all you can do.  Strength is a daily decision. And for me personally, what truly helps in this daily process of being strong is prayer and the belief in an all-loving and supportive God.

What advice would your adult self give your younger self?

First off, I would assure myself that I am doing a fantastic job. To this day, I have the tendency of being the hardest on myself.  It’s something that I continue to work on.  Related to this, I would tell the younger me to surround myself with good, genuine, and uplifting people.  Forget about trying to please everyone, and just focus on carefully selecting and nurturing that precious inner circle of trusted confidantes.  This inner circle will tell you when you’re messing up, and at the same time – be there to assure you when you’re doing a great job!  Work on your ability to discern people’s characters and their intentions for you.  This will save you a whole lot of time and energy!

What lessons from the past few years will you take with you in the future?

When people show you who they truly are – let them!  It may hurt to lose them or to miss the form that they once took in your life. But, be the self-loving and self-respecting person who is wise enough and strong enough to accept and let go.  Sometimes the healthiest and completely acceptable option is to love from afar.

Also, don’t let setbacks determine your fate.  Sometimes, you just need to take a step back and give yourself space to reevaluate the situation.  Use the experiences to help you determine what you truly want in life – to determine what’s truly worth fighting for.  At the end, you may choose to fight harder – or you may choose to let go.  But, ultimately – the goal is to take ownership over the decision and its consequences.  That’s being a strong, grown-a*s woman!

What can MEN do to better support women?

If I may, I’d like to turn this question around a little bit.  Instead, I would ask us women to focus on what can we WOMEN do to help MEN to better support women?  One of the gems of wisdom that I will always carry comes from an Emirati woman at a women’s conference in Dubai.  She reminded me and the large group of women in attendance of our power. Power in that – it is we who raise young boys and influence them in a significant way to become a certain kind of man.  So, let’s take advantage of that power and that honor in raising our children – both boys and girls – to respect and support one another – regardless of gender, creed, physical appearances, etc.  In world full of complexities, I believe that this is a great place to start towards achieving environments where individuals are freer to thrive and to be truly happy.

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