A Healthy Mind is in a Healthy Wallet – 10 Tips to Wellness Through Financial Sustainability

Money Girl

Dealing with stress, anxiety and other mental challenges is one thing. Doing it while under financial stress is a whole other ballgame! And that is the unfortunate position many women in the Arab world find themselves in.

In societies that uphold a women’s place in family and the home, women find themselves dependent on their spouse for financial support.  That’s well and good until their marital status changes, or a tragic event befalls the breadwinner.  A housewife finds herself under a mountain of emotional stress compounded by a financial burden.  And even if that doesn’t happen;  all an Arab housewife needs to do is look around at the 50%+ divorce rates across the Arab world. That alone warrants a lifetime prescription of Prozac, or, a plan to be financially sustainable.

Here are ten tips for financial sustainability that will have a direct impact on your mental well-being

  1. Discuss financial matters with your spouse, parent or guardian and address worse case scenarios
  2. Consult a financial adviser on a financial plan based on your current reality
  3. Put in place a savings plan and stick to it
  4. Educate yourself on financial sustainability using sites like Cashy.me and fool.com
  5. If you have the disposable income, join a women’s angel investment network to learn from others and co-invest to mitigate your risk
  6. Consider starting a home business, or taking on part-time work
  7. Learn the basics of balancing your accounts. Take an accounting course
  8. Educate yourself on the laws of the land regarding inheritance or divorce
  9. Acknowledge the challenges of financial stress and discuss them with a mental health professional, a support group or a trusted friend
  10. No matter how difficult your current financial circumstances are, you can always improve on them.  Reach out for support

If you have advice to offer others, please join the conversation and share your experience.

A Fine Line Between Social Etiquette and Telling Lies

truth122111

Copyright – Nation of Change

You’re leaving a dinner party, and a friend needs a taxi ride. You offer to drop her off, but her house is in the opposite direction, and yet you insist on dropping her home. You do it in-spite of traffic, and that report waiting for you at home to finish. You end up arriving at home hours later and with frustration staying up to a crazy hour to finish your report. It throws off your entire week.  Why? because that’s what our culture teaches us!

We grow up as Arabs with the concept of putting others ahead. Whether or not it makes any sense. We insist on offering dinner guests food well beyond the point of reason.  In business we nod in agreement to terms we don’t intend to honor.  We go out of our way offering up support, advice, facilitating connections that we may not even have accessible to us.  It is so overdone and exaggerated by most that our intent for generosity and altruism begins to lose meaning.  And more so, takes a habitual form that cannot be maintained without it becoming disingenuous, and turns our lives into one big lie!

How often have you come across friends who complain about doing so much for others? They complain that they no longer have time for themselves or their families. Why? because they must “return” a dinner invitation, or they promised a neighbor to watch their children. They complain indirectly about the activities they volunteered to do. The favors they opted for.  And at times make unkind references to those they opted to serve. Yet if you question their logic for doing it, their answer is “It’s only proper!  It’s our culture! How can I not?”.

I was seated next to a colleague one afternoon when a mutual friend walked past.  We both greeted him; my colleague went out of his way to address him with warm terms of endearment and salutations.  As he moved away, my colleague exclaimed “oh my! he can be so annoying!”.   The look on my face showed my utter surprise to the insincerity of his actions; his response “Aren’t you Syrian?” So matter of fact, like I was to know this is rooted in our culture.  It is no wonder the Qur’an likened backbiting to the most vial actions. And yet everyone does it. Why? because we live in a social world where everyone overextends themselves to the point that it becomes unsustainable. That social etiquette overrides our genuine feelings and thoughts. And the only way to manage it, is by complaining about its impact on our overstretched lives or living a lie.

This behavior is so deeply engrained in our culture, that it would be difficult state to change. But there is hope. Hope that is found in the Muslim prophetic tradition, and in modern day self-help guides in bookstores worldwide.  “Say the truth or be silent”.  If you cannot be genuine and sincere, then its best not to speak, or act for that matter.

Some good news .. #gaza family a phone call away..

I just got off the phone with Abdulhadi & khalil.  Two brothers, one lost his eye, another his limbs in the 2009 attack.

“Hamdul Allah we are fine.. three days no water, electricity. Our neighborhood is a ghost town.  Everyone evacuated, two missiles hit two houses next to ours.  We are fine.. its difficult to see children go through this”..

The UAE community hosted both brothers in 2010 for medical treatment.  Khalil became the first double amputee scuba diver in the Arab world. Abdulhadi an amazing human being, an artist, a confident outspoken young man who relentless asks me what he can do for others.  I pray that he and his family survive. 

I asked how I can help.. “Allah yebarek fiki.. pray for an end to this.”

Please pray for their safety and that of others around them.

GazaUnderAttack

Drawing by Abdulhadi in 2010

The gravity of the battle means nothing to those at peace

Last night, my 20 year old son came home in a solemn mood.  One of his dear school friends had passed in an operating room from complications.  We spoke of death, funerals and post funeral customs and how  people of different cultures observe it.  Ssome celebrate it and others morn for months on end.  I recalled the most consoling A’zaa (wake) I had been to was one celebrating the life of the deceased.  Death is the only certainty and hard as it maybe one must accept Gods’ will and the universal truth.

Tonight, we arrived at Ali’s A’zaa to see dozens of his young friends walking in, filling the hallways, on their faces a look of shock and sadness. For many of it is the first time they experience the passing of a loved one.  I fought back the tears at the sight of his sweet sister telling my son “he’s inchaAllah where he belongs, in heaven, we should celebrate his life, thank you for coming to remember him”.

I didn’t expect Ali’s parents to be the ones consoling their visitors.  Dressed in their everyday clothes, they greeted us warmly.  They stood, with a warm smile receiving hugs, telling guests “Allah chose him in a blessed month, pray for him”.  The walls covered with Ali’s photos and a quote he loved;  the TV displayed photos of Ali smiling, living life with his friends and family.  A table of his favorite chocolates and drinks held a sign inviting visitors to eat his favorite candy.  His friends took turns going up to his room.. a sign leading to it said “Take a souvenir to remember Ali”. Ali’s family graciously gave everyone permission to breath a sigh of relief and reflect on Ali’s spirited life.

Ali’s parents have always been role models; both spiritual and calm with a lighthearted outlook on life.  Today, they taught us all what resolve and unwavering faith in Allah’s judgement means.  “Pray for him, and ask everyone to do the same” was his father said with a smile.

I ask you all to pray for Ali and for our sons and daughters in Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Egypt. May their souls rest in peace. May Allah continue to grant his family strength and mercy.

death - life - peace

A Christmas Gift from Maria

Maria’s smile was the best gift I received this Christmas.  Maria is seven years young.  She can’t wait to go the USA, so she can run and play with other kids like she used to.  Five months ago she was walking with her mom in their neighborhood in a Palestinian refugee camp in Syria when a bullet entered her shoulder and lodged in her spine.

Image

Image

Her family sought refuge in Lebanon.  They live in an abandoned building. No electricity. The own two mattresses, three blankets and a wheelchair aside from the clothes on their back.

Image

The family greeted us with smiles that warmed the freezing room.  Maria spoke as she shivered: “My mother tells me stories, I cannot go to school, they don’t have a place for me. I get bored, so my father takes me on the chair to watch other kids run. I know I will have a surgery and get better and run again. When am I going to America to get my bullet out?”

As we walked out of their home, Mohamad, her father says there’s another family who needs your help.  A young mother appears with her three children; Mohamad the eldest was at home when a shell hit their house, killing his grandfather and tearing through his hands.

Image

Image

Image

“They are in good shape” says Mohamad, The PCRF Lebanon Missions Manager. “On your next visit, we will go to the Ba’kaa where a tent is the only shelter those families have”.

Every day I am reminded of how rich my life is with friends, loved ones, amazing work, and health.  Today, was a special reminder. On a day when people share gifts, feast and celebrate, I received a heart warming smile from a seven year old who has nothing. I felt touched by an angel.

If you would like to help provide medical treatment to Maria, Mohamad and other children like them please visit http://www.pcrf.net

If you would like to support families like Maria and Mohamad’s family, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/live2give

ذكر و أنثى

His and hers

قال لها ألا تلاحظين أن الكـون ذكـر؟
فقالت له بلى لاحظت أن الكينونة أنثى

قال لها ألم تدركي بأن النـور ذكـر؟

!فقالت له بل أدركت أن الشمس أنثـى

قـال لهـا أوليـس الكـرم ذكــر؟
!فقالت له نعم ولكـن الكرامـة أنثـى

قال لها ألا يعجبـك أن الشِعـر ذكـر؟
!فقالت له وأعجبني أكثر أن المشاعر أنثى

قال لها هل تعلميـن أن العلـم ذكـر؟
فقالت له إنني أعرف أن المعرفة أنثـى

وبـعـد ذلك..

قال لها سمعت أحدهم يقول أن الخيانة أنثى
فقالت له ورأيت أحدهم يكتب أن الغدر ذكر

قال لها ولكنهم يقولون أن الخديعـة أنثـى
فقالت له بل هن يقلـن أن الكـذب ذكـر

قال لها هناك من أكّد لـي أن الحماقـة أنثـى
فقالت له وهنا من أثبت لي أن الغباء ذكـر

قـال لهـا أنـا أظـن أن الجريمـة أنـثـى
فقالـت لـه وأنـا أجـزم أن الإثـم ذكر

قـال لهـا أنـا تعلمـت أن البشاعـة أنثـى
فقالـت لـه وأنـا أدركـت أن القبـح ذكر

قال لها يبدو أنك محقة فالطبيعة أنثـى

فقالت له وأنت قد أصبت فالجمال ذكـر

قـال لهـا لا بـل السـعـادة أنـثـى
فقالت له ربمـا ولـكن الحـب ذكـر

قال لها وأنا أعترف بأن التضحية أنثـى
فقالت له وأنا أقر بأن الصفـح ذكـر

قال لها ولكنني على ثقة بأن الدنيا أنثى
فقالت له وأنا على يقين بأن القلب ذكر

ولا زال الجـدل قائمـا وسيبقى الحوار مستمرا ً طــالــمــا أن  الـسـؤال ذكـــر والإجــــابة انـثى

 من أطرف ما قرأت. الشكر لوالدتي

From Debt to Prosperity

Live2Give

Live2Give

I believe in simplicity. No matter how complex a task may seem, you can break it down to small chunks and address it. [Financial Freedom]

Converting your current debt to equity may seem like a complex task. Break it down into manageable chunks and you’re half way to financial freedom!

So here it is, a step by step process:

  1. Get healthy! Yes, you read it right. Exercise! Your physical state affects your emotional state. Exercising pumps the right hormones which will help you maintain a cheerful optimistic outlook and clear your thoughts. When the going gets tough, the tough get healthy!
  2. Clean up your relationships – Debt is owing something to the world around you. It may mainfest itself as money owed, but you need to analyze your relationships and take stock of what you owe people in other ways. You may owe apologies, you have taken too much without giving. You may owe support. You may simply be with people who take too much and you need to learn to give yourself equally. Create balance in your relationships. The connection between debt and owing something in relationships may not be so obvious to you, but life is really that interconnected. Be open to seeing it and addressing these issues and you will see impact on your relationship with money.
  3. Articulate where you want to be – Write a statement declaring where you want to be and the time period you want to achieve your target (Ex. Become cash-flow positive having 5k surplus in the bank by Jan 2014).
  4. Write the financial challenge & seek advice – Write the problem and offer a solution. For example: (I owed the bank 10k AED, which I am paying back in full by December 2014). Seek the advice of people around you with good financial acumen, talk through the solution/s until you uncover all challenges / potential solutions.
  5. List challenges and solutions – List all issues associated with the debt problem and the solutions you can imagine. (Ex. Challenge – The bank is treating me with hostility and I’m worried. Solution – I can create a plan and present it to an understanding relationship manger). Avoid any “solution” that involves borrowing from other sources.
  6. Put the creditor first – You owe someone money, you cannot and should not avoid them. You need to treat them with priority and respect. Show them that respect, and they will show you leniency. Communicate regularly with your creditor, assure them of your commitment and respect those commitments through action.
  7. Downsize – This may be obvious, but sadly many ignore this and continue to live a lifestyle they cannot afford. Downsizing, and enjoying the simpler pleasures of life is critical at this stage. No car – take metro. Can’t dine out, picnic on the beach. Can’t take a trip, try trekking the Hajjar Mountains. You not only will enjoy the simpler pleasures in life, you’ll get fit doing it. Cut all credit cards, and live within your means. If you don’t have the cash for it in the bank, then you shouldn’t buy it.
  8. Think win-win – When dealing with your creditors, think win-win. How can you make the situation good for both? Negotiate terms that are in your favor, but keep their interest in mind. There’s always a way to come to a mutually beneficial arrangement. This maybe the toughest negotiation you have done because it is riddled with emotion and feelings of anxiety, but it can be done.
  9. Honesty – Come clean with your loved ones and close friends. You don’t have to transfer your worry to them. Simply share your situation, and state you have a solutions that requires their emotional support and encouragement. Share progress with them and accept positive support. For those who aren’t able to handle pressure, simply assure them that you are on the right track regularly.
  10. Meditate – Again, a healthy, clear mind is the first step to sound judgement. Money is energy. It can harm or help you. You can attract the right type if you are in the right frame of mind. Through meditation, you train yourself to be resilient during a difficult period. You will learn discipline of the mind and emotions. You will feel stronger when negotiating. But most importantly, you will learn the balance needed to get out of debt and into prosperity.

On the surface, this maybe a simplistic approach, but it works. Try it!

Re-Published on cashy.me