Author Archives: Noor Mastura

The Fall of Sisterhood

Hey Girls, 

It has only been a week since I started #BeingBravelyWoman. Only one week since that excitement of choosing which colours to fit the brand, which social media platforms to use, what type of content to create.. etc

But today –  a week later, it feels like that was a lifetime away.

Every now and then, I get attacked by men – accusing me of advocating for something that does not exists because all creations are equal. I don’t know what you think of the word feminism – because it is loaded and perhaps even, tainted – so let’s not use that word .
But the struggle of women is real. This struggle is not a zero sum game. It does not mean men are not suffering. But depending on the context we talk about, a lot of the times, the ones suffering to a large extent are – women.

But the worst part about this work is not the attack by men. It is having to sit down and realise just how many women, are trying to diminish the struggles of other women. It is having to face the reality, that some of us have been hurt by far more women than men in our lives.

Of course it isn’t fair to assume that all women should like one another and be willing to braid each other’s hair while we sing to Spice Girls – ‘Wannabe.’
The hurt and betrayal I am referring to here is something far more sophisticated -calculated almost.

It is the conscious effort to put down a fellow sister – just because. The meticulous planning to get her into situations she will struggle to get out from. It is the sadistic happiness of seeing her downfall. The joy when she cries or is in pain. The silent smile when she falls.

Women are the first to judge another woman. Don’t believe me? Ask any woman who has been through motherhood. Ask her about the time she got pregnant. Ask her about how her decisions for her unborn baby was judged. Ask her how many women questioned her when she chose to /or did not choose to breastfeed. Ask a new mother how other mothers judge her for the way she is trying to raise her child.
Go on, I’ll wait.

Pregnancy and motherhood is very much a woman’s world. Not as many men in that field. But it is possibly the most judgemental environment and phase of a women’s life.

Girls and women like this exist everywhere. In our schools. I was bullied more by the girls in my school than the guys. Girls who made me feel I was ugly. Some of the worst bullying cases against females can be found in all girls schools. The harassment and emotional abuse is enough to make a young girl take her life. Or at least attempt to.
True story.

You find these women amongst colleagues at work too. The backstabbing, The bitching. The manipulation. The lies. The pretence. The fake smiles and concern.

And why are mother-in laws and daughter-in laws always at war? Of course there are exceptions. But think about this. Yes I am sure there are cases of father-in laws and son-in laws not getting along. But the former takes the cake. Why has this vicious age old cycle not ended? What have the daughter-in laws who suffered in the hands of their MILs not end the cycle?

As a woman – no forget that, as a human, it is so important to have a supportive female environment. It’s been two months since I’ve moved to Oman with my husband. I have zero community here except for my husband. And don’t get me wrong, he is great company – in fact, the best. I love doing everything and anything with him. Yet, it felt like something was empty. It was only after sitting in a company of women who were expats like me – talking about everything from religion to sports to female biology, community expectations, current affairs, history, politics etc – and came out from that feeling refreshed and glowing with new energy – that I realised what was missing all along.

There is nothing in the world that can replace the powerful, positive energy of a sisterhood. Even if it is just one woman in your circle.

Toxic female energy exists. They bring other women down. Don’t be one of them.

Bravely Yours, 
Noor 

The Gratitude Post

HEY GIRLS, 

Omg. My first ever post after 5 years. Wow.

Anyway, I am going to dive right in! For my post, I want to give you something tangible you can start doing right now in your lives!
This blog is not going to be about words that will forever end up on the internet – no!
I want to share practices that we can actually apply in our lives right here, right now and see the difference it is making, while we journey together.

So here’s starting with something I strongly believe in, that has helped me in gazillion ways. I swear. This is such a powerful life tool that I wish I can shout on an earth loudspeaker so it reaches every living soul.

So….what exactly is this powerful magic?

No lah, no magic. It’s super halal.

Give thanks! It is as simple as that.

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Before we go any further and you think I just watched ‘The Secret’ so I am all fired up – let’s bring in the science and data on gratitude.

In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive, remember good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity and build strong relationships.

Two psychologists, Dr. Robert Emmons of the University of California & Dr. Michael McCullough of the University of Miami, have done plenty of research in this.

In one study, they asked participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics.

One group wrote about things they were grateful for. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative).
After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than the latter two groups.

Of course, studies such as this one cannot prove cause and effect. But the fact is – most of the studies published on this topic support an association between gratitude and an individual’s well-being.


 

The act of giving thanks is immensely powerful. I simply cannot emphasise this enough. It puts you in a place where there is zero negativity. Because you are being 100% positive. You are saying thank you. You are counting your blessings. You are grateful. You are appreciating the goodness is your life. It does not mean there is nothing bad in your life or you don’t have problems you are currently dealing with- but, at this particular moment of giving thanks, you are choosing to acknowledge the good stuff.

Most of you know my story by now. Through this blog, I am definitely going to share a lot more. But I’ve been through my share of darkness and pain. From being sexually abused at a tender age of 4, to experiencing bullying, to watching my family fall apart to not having a place to call home to being so broke that I couldn’t even afford to eat.

But the day I started practicing gratitude – like real gratitude. Truly and deeply thanking God for the little and big things that lit up my day – things actually changed. And I can’t explain how or what or the way this works to you. Because, truth be told. It is beyond me.  All I know is that it works. My life isn’t perfect now either but I’ll tell you something – when you get into the habit of practising gratitude – you have more perfect moments than you can count.

So ladies, how exactly do you begin to practice this?

  1. Write it down. On a piece of paper. On your notes in your phone. Whatsapp yourself. You can do this anytime, anywhere.
  2. Meditate. So this is more of a mental note taking. Find a quiet space and time. Close your eyes. And literally visualise what you are giving thanks for.
  3. Pray. I personally do a mix of 3 and 1. Also, because my prayers are timed, I pick one of the prayers and take a moment to give thanks.

When is the best time?
The more you give thanks, the more powerful this becomes. So what you really need to do is to make this a habit. You can do it on the train or bus on your way to work. First thing you do when you wake up or last thing before going to bed. Even if it is just one thing you are going to acknowledge.

Who do you give thanks to?
By default, gratitude connects you to something larger than yourself— whether to the universe, other people, nature, or a higher power.
You are recognising that the source of that goodness lies at outside of you.
Pick your source and direct it there.

What do I give thanks for?
Anything. Everything. It can be as abstract as the earth we live in and the clean air we breathe or as specific as finally getting the right foundation shade. And if ever you think you have nothing else to give thanks for,  my uncle taught me something I would never forget. He said, don’t just thank God for what He gave you. Thank Him for what He did not give you as well. Boom.

Trust your girl and just try this. Grab a friend ie gratitude buddy, to remind each other. And if you start practicing this, I honestly want to know how you feel in a week!

Bravely yours, 
Noor. 

 

 

 


Source: Harvard Health Publishing

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Here’s to being 25. Cheers.

TOP 25 lessons. Bite-sized.

1) No matter how famous, rich, beautiful or happy – EVERYONE has their struggles.

2) Mother, Mother, Mother – The Most important person in your life. Her happiness is your blessings.
Take care of her heart and you will lead a life of wonderment.

3) Your friends are few – So Facebook says you have 2000 over friends but you’d be surprise to know how many people outwardly cant stand the sight of you, secretly hate you, don’t really care, can’t unfriend you because ‘it will be so awkward’, keep tabs on your achievements and if they are lucky, your failures. Sounds harsh but welcome to 25 years of life.
As for the ones who have been there all along, treasure these people and love them hard.

4) Siblings = REAL-est friends you will ever have. No one else will tell it straight to your face like them. Also the ones who will go out of their way for you when you need it most. Also, the people who let you experience the feeling of wanting to yank someone’s hair out of their heads.

5) Getting married is not THE happy ending. You need to work hard for happy endings throughout your marriage. This includes sacrifices, sharing, arguments, fights, situations that will test your ego on levels you have never experienced, apologising even when you are right, changing your entire environment etc. (No i am not married, I am just wise like that)

6) Faith is not a constant feeling of highs and perfection. The struggle is real. You have highs AND lows.
If there are days you doubt God and His existence and you are crying out for Him – you are definitely on the right track.

7) Never assume the extent/level/intensity of a person’s faith based on the clothes they wear, outward piety or lack of outward piety. 

8) Laughter really is the best medicine. Learn to see funny and laugh.

9) It really isn’t what you say but HOW you say it. (Don’t believe me? Try saying something horrible and give them a hug at the same time)

10) No kind deed or word is ever too small. EVER. I cannot emphasise on this enough.

11) Waiting for death is significantly easier than waiting for the approval of people. So stop doing that.

12) A single drop of sincerity can wipe out all the fires of hell.

13) Not everyone with a qualification is knowledgeable so be very very very selective with who you take advice and guidance from.

14) Keep going even when you’re tired for that is when your real training begins. (Quote i saw at the gym but very applicable to non gym stuff!)

15) Humans are NOT infallible. Yes, your Shaykh, Priests, Rabbis, Politicians, Guruji, Monks, Parents, Media, Teachers, Husband, whoever you ‘worship’ – CAN make mistakes! (and they will)

16) No matter what your belief is – your soul needs feeding. Spend time with nature.

17) Money is NOT the root of all evil. It is a tool.

18) Spending time ALONE with yourself is CRUCIAL and absolutely precious. Do it more often.

19) When your environment is clean and organised, so is your mind. Tested and proven.

20) TRAVEL. The best thing you can gift to yourself in the short time you have in this world.

21) Never stop reading. Add as much non-fiction as you can to the list. The more you read, the more you’ll realise just how little we actually know.

22) You can respectfully disagree with someone and still love them and maintain kindness and compassion. (Half the world hasn’t realised this yet!)

23) Life is a battlefield and you ALWAYS have a choice. So choose your battles and fights wisely.

24) In this crazy world, thank God for animals. Treat them with kindness and love.

25) Food. Unites. People.

To March babies and all 25 year olds this year – here’s to the next quarter of a century!