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Can we still be Creative at 70? Does our creativity decline with age??

As a songwriter, I must have asked myself this question a million times! After all, it is a reasonable query… People have debated this for years and so many experts have so confidently affirmed that our ability to think creatively declines with age and that our peak is actually childhood – as early as the age of 5! Apparently, the educational system sucks creativity out of us by conditioning our minds to solutions and to the way things just are! When a professor pauses a question, he trains us to reach the answer he already has because that is the only answer in the book… A simple exercise was conducted by asking a group of elementary school children what they could use a paperclip for… The children came up with more than a hundred answers whereas adults asked the same question could hardly come up with a few answers – up to 12 at the most because by adulthood logic takes over and the uses of a paperclip become relatively limited to what our experience has taught us!

Some people like to think otherwise… Particularly Edward de Bono – perhaps the only authority in the world on creative thinking otherwise known as lateral thinking – Google him! De Bono is a breath of fresh air really, especially when he notes how essential creativity is for overcoming obstacles and reaching one’s goals in life… Technically, resourcefulness and problem solving skills are part of the creative thinking process… Our ability to look at things differently and come up with “Outside the Box” answers and ideas! De Bono refers to creative thinking as a skill…

That definitely rings true… Look at artists! They start out creative and they continue to be for as long as they are in the habit of reinventing themselves over and over again with every single artwork they create… My view is that anyone who is challenged by constantly having to raise the bar and go back to the drawing board after every achievement is using their creativity… genuinely of course and not just by doing the same thing over and over again with minor tweaks and adjustments… The fact is, it’s a “Use it or Lose it” situation!

The ally to this pattern is change… the more we face constantly changing circumstances, the more blessed we are, for this is a guarantee that our minds are constantly stimulated to adjust to the new situation by challenging us into finding new ways and new solutions to deal with the new scenario!

Looking forward, I definitely am more confident that if you use it… You most certainly won’t lose it!

 

“Creativity is a great motivator because it makes people interested in what they are doing. Creativity gives hope that there can be a worthwhile idea. Creativity gives the possibility of some sort of achievement to everyone. Creativity makes life more fun and more interesting.” Edward de Bono

 

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Miss Lebanon 2011 – Is Beauty Enough?

I had the pleasure or should I say misfortune of watching the eagerly awaited Miss Lebanon and to my utter disappointment, I had to watch as 10 beautiful girls made total fools of themselves in front of the entire country!

We went through the swimsuits, the evening gowns, the dancing and finally reached the judgment hour: intelligence! Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of beauty and I do think that it CAN coexist with personality and intelligence however; most of the time, the flaws are what motivate a person to evolve faster and perfection on the other hand is like a grace period… But eventually everyone winds up working on him or her self; it’s just a matter of time.

For now, let us focus on the hopeful judges who had made such an effort to come up with intriguing questions set to bring forth philosophical answers and instill beautiful messages in the minds of the hundreds of thousand people who were watching the event unfold live on satellite TV.

The look of disappointment on their faces said it all. The stress of standing up in front of so many people had gotten to the contestants so badly that I found myself wanting to reach out through the screen and whisper a good answer into their ears… So much for wishful thinking! They struggled with every question and if any of them had gotten off to a good start, it was only seconds before they fell back into the whirlpool of nervousness and came out with yet another flat even irrelevant response…

It just made me think of the saying: think before you speak! I am sure that each of these girls felt the blow of their shallow answers way before they watched the replay and I am sure that had they been given more time to come up with an answer, it would have been more relevant… BUT, this was definitely not an option here…

In future, I would urge the organizers to prep the girls a wee bit just to get them in the mindset of the seriousness of the role they can play in society and how every step counts particularly the questioning bit.

In spite of the superficiality of such contests, I truly believe beauty queens can use the fame and fortune to do great work in society and can send out great messages to young girls who aspire to be like them one day. I would not like my daughter to believe that beauty alone is enough to get her far in life… At least in the sustainable sense…

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Only When it Feels Right

 

We constantly hear of the power of intuition but we rarely follow it or actually truth be told; very few of us know how to use it!

Psychologists refer to intuition as mental matching; meaning interpreting situations by association and referencing to our past experience.

For example, a doctor can take one look at a woman suffering from fatigue and shortness of breath and diagnose it as anemia thus showing immediate understanding of the situation.

Whatever rationale we use to define it, the bottom line is that it is that deeply routed voice from within us that guides us through challenging situations if we let it It is the voice that gives us the first answer to a mathematical question – right before we question it, overanalyze it and wind up going for the wrong answer! This eventually leads to the disappearance of this wonderful built-in feature!

 

Dr. Antoine Bechara – a psychologist at the University of Southern California found that the absence of intuition could lead someone to become cognitively paralyzed! He ran an experiment on brain-damaged patients who could not form emotional intuition when making a decision… Apparently it took them two hours to decide between two kinds of cereal!


Blessed are those who can make quick decisions be it through natural intuition or a magic eight ball… They just choose a path and go for it without ever looking back… This mostly comes with experience although, in my view, we are all born with intuition!


We sometimes resort to friends and family for advice when in fact the answer lies within us Intuition is like a muscle that needs training for it to become effective and loud enough for us to hear… Unless of course, we retained this skill from childhood and learned to trust in it enough to keep it around!

 

They say that if you are at a crossroad and can’t decide which way to go: sit down! 🙂 Thing is that you might not always make the soundest decisions and if we don’t do something about it, any decision can turn into a dilemma, but if you train yourself to be willing to face the results no matter what happens, you wind up building up your “come what may” attitude… Whatever happens, you will deal with it just the way you dealt with everything else in your life so just jump… Eventually, your intuitive muscles will spring back to life…

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The global differences of babymaking: The story of my waterbirth

I recently guest-posted on a friend’s blog and shared my waterbirth experience in Abu Dhabi out of all places where it’s almost unheard of! I hope that this story inspires more women to follow their innate maternal birthing instincts and opt for a drug-free delivery!

You can also log into my friend’s blog – an amazing guide for mothers around the world www.mummyenprovence.com

Tell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old are your children and where did you have them?

After having spent most of my life moving from place to place, I came to the conclusion that even though I was originally Lebanese, I am in fact an international citizen! Unbound by any ethnic or racial background or limited by it for that matter… I have two kids: Omar, six years old and Naya, 2 months – both born in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – one in a regular operating room in Dubai and the second in the bathtub of a hospital in Abu Dhabi ☺

 

Why did you have your children abroad?

Like a lot of Lebanese people, I have had to find my fortune outside Lebanon where instability and constant turmoil prevail, and spend my life reminiscing over how beautiful my country is! I now live for my short holidays back to savor the beauty, the food and the weather for a few short days! It’s not that bad – I’m kind of over it now… so are the other 12 million Lebanese living abroad ☺ Living abroad means convenience of breeding onsite… No use in going back home to deliver if the pregnancy is stable and there are no complications. Had there been any issues then I would have probably felt safer in the hands of a skilled Lebanese doctor back home… There was also the factor of practicality, I’m a working mother and disconnecting for long periods of time is not really an option, but again, it’s ok – I’m kind of over it now ☺ One of the key reasons I didn’t need to be back home for my second delivery was that my courageous doctor in Abu Dhabi was prepared to help me have the waterbirth I had always dreamed of! Yes, epidural-free birth… I know what you’re thinking… “Why would anyone deliberately take the pain!” Well, I wasn’t up for it the first time I became a mother even though I had the intention to… It just didn’t happen… Given that my husband and I planned to only have two kids – it was now or never… !

 

Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?

When you say waterbirth in Abu Dhabi, Dubai OR Lebanon even the entire region here, it’s pretty much uncharted territory… In fact, none of the doctors, relatives or friends I spoke with encouraged it. They all made me feel reckless and irresponsible to even consider the option and here I was struggling with the decision… My thought was that women have been having their babies at home for centuries with midwives and without hospitals, doctors or nurses so why on earth couldn’t I have my baby in a small kiddy pool at the hospital itself under the supervision of a qualified medical team who could intervene at any point? I was determined… And the more people discouraged me, the more I became adamant to go where no Lebanese woman had gone before… ☺ I felt like Neil Armstrong about to step on the moon!

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

Sure, I had my fears and concerns but when my doctor agreed and confirmed that it would be a safe option considering I was having a healthy uncomplicated pregnancy – I was ready! I watched at least 100 videos of waterbirths on youtube and felt so empowered I could open my own birthing clinic! I had to mentally prepare myself for the day and even though my labor began two days ahead, it was amazing to watch as my body started getting accustomed to the pain… I witnessed as my threshold for tolerance increased over the two days and by the time my cervix was ripe and at 2.5 cms, I was able to do some last minute shopping… I had to break every three minutes to breathe through the contractions but hey, I knew the pain was gonna get really bad eventually and so I tried to pace myself… It worked… I even suggested going home and resting for a while but my doctor wouldn’t have it, he knew that day was D day and he didn’t want me to give birth in my living room! Once at the hospital, it was indeed confirmed that I was in labor… the contraction monitor was flickering over the 100 mark at a time when I my contractions had started off at 20/100 two days earlier and slowly built up to 50/100 that same morning… I had been pacing up and down the corridor and had began crying through my contractions when we all decided it was time I got in the tub… The minute I felt the warm water, I felt so much better! It’s amazing what the water did for me and the only time I felt like crying again was at 8 centimeters – literally minutes before Naya came out! Rouba with newborn Naya in the birthing pool What I found amazing was that my natural instincts that just came into play… The last time I was giving birth, I was numb the waist down and needed the doctor to notify me when the contractions were coming in… This time around it was different… At some points I felt the desire to rotate my waste in the water and that reduced the pain a little… I was taking deep controlled breaths… Yes I was in pain; I’m not forgetting that part! But there was an elevated side of me that was fully focused and in control… The doctor was coming in and out of the bathroom to check on progress and it was at my call that we began the pushing process… Effectively, after 3 hours in the bathtub, it took two major pushes and my baby was out… What a feeling! I felt her every millisecond of the way… It was beautiful… I felt so strong in that moment… The second she was out, the pain vanished almost magically! Again my body guided me when it was time to push the placenta out and it was on my call that it happened…

 

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

I think if this experience has taught me anything it is to trust my instinct as a mother and just ignore what people say and that includes close family and relatives! Surely, I’m not referring to unrealistic expectations especially when a medical condition is involved or any complication whatsoever… In these instances it is best to seek and follow medical advice… In the absence of such challenges, women have a built-in mechanism that just “knows” what to do… We just have to trust in it enough to follow it… Everyone was against me doing this waterbirth but it’s ok – I’m SO OVER IT! ☺

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I Do! Do I? The five “C”s – Pillars for a successful relationship

Everywhere I turn, I hear people talking about someone who recently got married, divorced, remarried, redivorced, gave up on love, gave up on marriage, sewing their ex… It seems like a global epidemical melt down in communication between the sexes! Could it be linked to the unrealistic image we have had in our minds since childhood? You know the one: “And they walked down the isle and lived happily ever after!” it was in Cinderella, Snow white and pretty much every single fairytale story that followed… We assume that marriage is just an extension of relationships and that we simply have to show up WRONG!

Not to cast a dark cloud here but marriage is hard work… In the sense that we cannot just ignore our relationship and expect love to grow and evolve on its own No! We have to work at it… we have to face our issues as mature adults and keep our egos out of the conversation…

I have personally been divorced before but found the courage to make the jump again 4 years ago. So glad I did because I am now happily married to an amazing man who supports me in everything I do. It is through this relationship that I came to believe there can be healthy marriages and here are 5 pillars that have been the foundation for our successful partnership this far…

 

CONVERSATION

They say marry someone you can talk toEven if you are not used to long conversations with your partner you can practice and get better at it. Might not happen from the first or second try but just make time regularly to talk about anything that comes to mind… You can start shallow at first and then work your way into deeper more meaningful subjects to build the friendship side of your partnership.

 

COMMUNICATION

So many couples encounter issues during the course of their relationships and find themselves in the midst of anger-filled quarrels that sometimes end up in swearing, screaming and door slamming… Promise each other that no matter what the argument you will “discuss” it openly and with a calm and composed attitude so that it becomes productive… Some men don’t enjoy these sit downs because they find them unnecessary and time-consuming but the truth is women need to talk it through! They can’t just press the “FIX” button and end the conversation… Don’t confuse this with “conversation” – that one is for pure entertainment purposes… 🙂

 

CHANGE

Einstein once said that insanity is “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” so rightly said and it applies directly to relationships in my view. If there is a recurring problem then there is an area that needs to be worked on and you have to be willing to identify a new course of action that might require you to change for the better. We are not talking about personality traits here just habits.

 

CONSTRUCTIVENESS

If you want to have a long and healthy relationship you have to be willing to resolve each issue you face thoroughly enough to get to the core of it…. Discuss the problem, what bothered each of you about it and how it ought to be handled if it were to pop up again and boy will it! The goal is not to repeat the same mistakes and live in eternal loop mode! This process has to be very constructive and so avoid the blame game and don’t drag the past into it, stick to the facts and truly mean to sort things out. Avoid dwelling, simply point out the elements, agree on a way forward and move on… Eventually you get better and faster at this just keep in mind that you have to choose your battles; some things are just not worth fretting over…

 

COMMITMENT

You have to be genuinely committed to working things out no matter how heated the situation gets. I have seen so many couples head straight for the door when things got rough and that includes yours truly! It is much easier to call it quits but I discovered that it’s sticking it through that earns us the right of passage. Surely I’m not talking about abusive relationships; that is an entirely different post!

I’m sure you’re all familiar with this statement: “50% of marriages end up in divorce,” and yet we still do it… Because in fact, having someone to share our life with can be a great experienceDon’t you think?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

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GET OVER IT!

Sure, life is tough… So what? Think you’re the only one who has their share of issues and challenges? Everything in life is relative, and so what bothers one person might not affect another, but the fact remains that each of us have their own personal threshold of tolerance and once they reach it, they too can crack under the pressure…

Trick is to minimize the dwelling and move into practical damage containment mode asap! Of course, we can get frustrated with something, pissed off with someone, furious with a situation, but eventually that feeling will subside and things naturally get better. Even though it might seem in that moment like the world has come to an end, it really hasn’t! If you observe older wiser people under stress, they tend to be more composed and in their element because they know full well that this is just another bridge they will have to cross… Psychologists confirm the theory that with age people do get wiser when it comes to handling stress because they learned that every single situation is indeed manageable one way or another.

Dr. Stephen Covey, who came up with the infamous Seven Habits of Highly Effective People believes that for every action that triggers a reaction in us, we have the right to choose how to react. I must admit that theoretically, that sounds really effective – only problem is that I’m am not some guru sitting at a monastery at the top of the Himalayas mountains! I am living in the midst of all the action where it can get really challenging to perform a little “ommm” session to soothe myself… Only thing I CAN do is work on my reaction to try and reduce the climax point and then focus on the most important part: getting over it!

When people ask me “how are things” my response is always “they are just how they are intended to be”… Good, bad, up or down is irrespective really because we have to learn to embrace life fully with its bittersweet flavors… If we fall into the “why me” pit it will only prolong our suffering… Life is too short to inflict such unnecessary misery…

If we stop for a single moment and consider the millions of people on this planet who are suffering from incurable diseases, hunger, AIDS, poverty, homelessness, loss of loved ones, loss of a limb, and can still find a way to smile, then you know what? We need to relax!

One of the key factors in the recovery process of diseases as grave as cancer is the attitude of patients and their optimism towards life in spite of the major illness dominating their physical being. I have seen amazing recoveries by women and men alike when they chose to focus on the bright side of things and the beauty of it is that there is always something positive to get us through…

Whenever things get rough, I always remind myself of one my favorite quotes by Reinhold Niebuh: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

This too shall pass!

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Survival of the “FITTEST”


When I look back at my life, I find that I was the happiest when I managed to fit exercise into my busy schedule. Not because of the solid thighs and curvy muscles, nor was it for the ease of buying clothes or looking fabulous… All of these were great but the part I miss the most is the state of mind! The true beauty of exercise is that it elevates my thinking to a point where I can overcome adversity way better and faster than when I am not exercising… The world suddenly becomes much easier to deal with and the dwelling is reduced to the minimum! Sports are known to release endorphins that make us happy, kind of like a happy pill! My aunt who is a psychoanalyst actually prescribes exercise to patients suffering from acute depression!

It even affects my productivity… I get more done, I am more enthusiastic, I am much more creative and even think faster… No wonder several companies in the US have set up in-house gyms and are encouraging their staff to get a daily workout… I bet they can justify the move with a proven increase in overall output and performance!

I spent years going back and forth to the gym… and the effect was always as amazing and rewarding! Trick was the “getting back in” part… Procrastination was an understatement in my case… I had a huge list of excuses for why I haven’t been able to do it so far but the truth is that I’m just being lazy and it’s always the first few steps that are the hardest…

I remember watching an in-depth interview with an Ecommerce consultant to the White House on CNN – can’t remember her name but sure do recall her story! The woman spends her time from private jet to limousine and from state to state. When she is not lecturing the likes of Bill Clinton and Obama, she is writing her latest book… She struck me as a very busy woman but what got to me the most was that no matter where she was or what she was doing, she finds the time to swim for a whole hour every single day of the week! In fact, she does most of her strategic thinking in the pool! That’s when I realized that using the time factor as an excuse was no longer valid in my book… I understood that it’s not about “finding” time, it’s about “making” time…

If that’s not enough encouragement then let’s look at the disease epidemic all brought about from lack of exercise combined with bad eating habits… back pain, joint pain, cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, the list of goes on and on… Fact is that it has indeed been proven that adopting a healthy lifestyle takes all of these illnesses away… They magically disappear – in some cases, as little as six months into it…

Once in gym mode, which is usually around week 4, all I need is a brief self-inflicted pep talk and I’m there… Then comes the beautiful reward of actually SEEING the difference 12 weeks down the line and that’s enough to bring me back every time…

Lao Tzu, a Chinese philosopher once said that “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step,” and I guess the best way to get myself back into gym mode is take that step…

As I divert my mindset to getting back on my fancy elliptical trainer, I am giving myself till end of the week to start doing at least 20 minutes 3 times a week. Care to join me? 🙂

 

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Why Not Me?

My entire life, I had been in awe of people who managed to truly be happy by doing what they love best and thriving at it! Just as described by David Ogilvy’s, “Find something you truly love doing and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Question was, how do you find that something that you love and that you’re good at? You’re definitely not born with it and how is it that some have uncovered that secret… how did the Richard Bransons and the Steve Jobs of the world do it? Please don’t mistake this with a wish for wealth… If anything, the beauty of this quest is that money is not the focus at all and just happens to come by default…

Great thing about this is that none of these people who “made it” are employed… they are entrepreneurs, freelancers: they are INDEPENDENT!

I made it my mission to find out how they did it… If there was a recipe, I wanted to know what it was… and here is what I found out… These people have all come up with a great idea to begin with… Sound familiar? Heck how many great ideas have you come up with in your lifetime? Thing is, they then set a plan for the idea and started to work towards achieving it. Then came the challenges and pitfalls, all of which were taken on full frontal with persistence and resilience until they reached their target. From that point on, it was just a matter of setting new goals and moving from one success to the next.

Although it sounds fairly simple, it is much harder to realize than one can imagine. Reason being, there is another component at play here and a common denominator these successful individuals share: SELF-CONFIDENCE! People who have acquired it are pretty much geared for success in anything they set their minds to and believe in themselves and their ideas enough to go after them. I say acquired because the reality is that self-confidence is not a vaccine your parents give you as a child, it is the reward that stems from a series of achievements – big and small.

Call it what you will; gutsy, brave, courageous, fearless… Abraham Mazlo would call it self-actualization and he believes that less than 1% of adults actually reach it, but the bottom line is it is to fulfill one’s highest potential.

There is a multibillion dollar industry of self-help books out there all carrying the magic recipe, the key to unlocking our full potential however; we could spend our lifetime rotating between therapy and self-help books and it would still not be enough because unfortunately, there is not a single magic tip in the world that can speed up this process.

Truth is, we build our confidence layer by layer as we learn to handle life better and become more positive with our outlook irrespective of what people might think of us. Mostly, we learn to finish what we start.

It starts with truly taking charge of our lives and stop playing victims of circumstances and the lack of opportunities. No matter who we are or what kind of lifestyle we lead, mistakes and failures do happen and the only way to evolve and overcome is to review every situation – briefly to avoid dwelling – learn the lesson at hand and derive positive strength from it before the final step of moving on.

Successful people dare to dream and pursue their dreams with passion believing they CAN reach them. What are your dreams? This blog was one of mine 🙂


 

 

 

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My Favorite Quotes

“As you become more clear about who you really are, you’ll be better able to decide what is best for you – the first time around.” Oprah Winfrey

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step.” Lao Tzu

“Find something you love doing and you will never work a day in your life.” David Ogilvy.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Reinhold Niebuh

“Sing like no one’s listening, love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like nobody’s watching, and live like its heaven on earth.” Mark Twain

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Ghandi



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Still I rise By Maya Angelou


You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.


 

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