Category Archives: Wellness

 

Fatima Hoosain

Photo by Leyla Heylan Photography

 

” Today I am ‘me’, the woman I wished I could be: forever growing.

When I was a kid, I always knew that I was meant to do something special in my lifetime. My dreams were filled with my older self fighting crime and keeping peace.

Life has a funny way of distorting our perception of what’s perfect. As I grew older, my vision of ‘perfect’ changed- and not for the better. With all the changes a woman goes through in life (physically, emotionally, spiritually), we tend to forget what the difference between perfect and beautiful is. I certainly forgot. When I was 5, my concept of beauty was to be like my mother. Physically, she was beautiful with her dark curly hair, striking features and a strong sense of confidence. She always spoke her mind and did what was right. At the age of 10, my concept of beauty had changed, drastically. My group of friends suddenly changed and so did my idea of what was beautiful. To be beautiful, I had to have long, blonde hair and a skinny frame. I had to have an American accent and the ’hottest guy in school’ had to like me, or else I was a nobody and a ‘wannabe’.

At 12 years old, all I wanted to do was fit in. Unfortunately, I was so desperate to feel like I was welcomed, I allowed people to take advantage of my insecurities. An incident regarding a dare to kiss a boy on the cheek at an extremely conservative school was going to be my make-or-break. All it led to, was me humiliating myself and creating a reputation even though I had never even gone as far as holding a boy’s hand.

By the time I was 14 I had already accepted the thought that I was not special and that I would never be part of the popular crowd. All I knew was that I had an opinion and for some reason that was wrong. To my peers I was considered annoying and bossy. I was considered to be an attention seeker that thrived on being a teacher’s pet. My insecurities had consumed me so much that even the people who were genuine and kind were pushed away.

At 15 I was diagnosed with clinical depression. I had been contemplating suicide for months and (of course) the only thing that could save me was a boy. I spent eight months clinging onto a toxic relationship because in my head he was the only person keeping me alive. If it hadn’t been for one of my best friends informing my mother that I needed help, I wouldn’t be alive today. After a few weeks of therapy, I decided to cut my hair and end my relationship. I was a new woman, apparently. I told myself I was fine and that I didn’t need feelings. I just had to force myself to be okay and things would be fixed. Oh, how wrong I was!

By 16 years old I was an emotionless robot, and that came with unexpected consequences. My heart was so broken, my mind so sick that my physical health began deteriorating. I had rejected the idea that I could be a beautiful, strong woman with such force that my uterus began to destroy itself. I was not okay with feeling so weak that I couldn’t lift my head. I was not okay with the fact that no doctor, no matter how skilled, could tell me what was wrong with me. It was at this point that I realised I needed to get help. The right help. After a year of therapy and constant support from my mother and best friends I can safely say that I am strong. I am strong and I am beautiful and I am a woman.

With the help and support of loved ones, I dropped out of high school. I stopped trying to be this person that I’m not and decided to do what’s right.

I am achieving my dreams, empowering people that were never given the chance to create lives for themselves.

After leaving school, my mother and I started a Non-Profit: The Skills Development Programme, which aims to develop skills within underprivileged communities. We aim to empower people to make their lives better for themselves. Our plan is to do this through skills that seem basic, like compiling a CV for example, but that can make every difference in someone’s life.

My dream is to make the world better and that is exactly what I am going to do.”

Written By Fatima Hoosain

Edited By Malika Omar

Follow: Sparrow Speaks

For those suffering from anxiety and depression, seek help from your local medical advisor to discuss treatment. It’s important to speak up and not suffer in silence.

In South Africa, please contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group

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Hi Sand Stars!

Life is so incredibly busy and hectic recently and I’ve been needing to centre myself and draw myself back to the present many times. One unique way I have recently been able to consciously bring myself to the present is with Obaku Watches and Hour Choice.

With a series of Obaku timepieces, I’ve been able to explore many aspects of ‘my zen’, including music (the watches even inspired a piece of music), meditative reflection, nature, poetry and the sea.

The sleek pieces are made with quality materials, in classic colours and styles that will carry from season to season. My favorites are the dark blue tones and mother-of-pearl insets.

The beautiful watches (and Obaku’s focus on zen philosophy) has been integral in bringing me much contentment during this hectic time. See just some of the beautiful images encapturing ‘my zen’ below. To purchase the watches, check out Hour Choice on Instagram and Rivoli Shop:

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(Photography by Tahmeed Omar)

Live, Love & Laugh Littlepianodiva Style!

 

M

xxx

 

 

 

Hey Sand Stars!

During my twenties, I was continuously apologising for not ‘fitting in’ with a particular stereotype. I was concerned that people may not understand that my quirky, carefree, bohemian demeanour and sense of humour was only an aspect of me. I was concerned that they may not realise that the other side of me was very determined, into seeking knowledge, hard-working and unwavering in the morals and values of my faith and upbringing.

I know SO many people- especially women -who, too, seem to struggle to marry the different aspects of their personalities and thus be themselves completely.

When I was growing up, my siblings and I were encouraged to think outside of the box and have big dreams. We were also encouraged- most importantly -to be true to ourselves, no matter what others may think.

The latter has (and still is) quite the journey.

We’re told to ‘be ourselves,’ but society has indoctrinated us with images of perfection (Victoria’s Secret models; this means you…) and that we need to be earning this much and that much to be happy. We’re told that we can ‘have opinions’ but not talk about those opinions (side note: opinions are not judgement, as some may think).

Today, I’d like to tell you that I’ve chosen to just BE.

And HOLY SMOKES, it’s pretty darn cool.

I strive to be a better person, a better Muslim, a better business-woman, a better musician; but I’m happy with who I am right at this moment.

You should be, too.

There’s a reason we all look different- we’re as unique and beautiful as snowflakes. So, revel in your individuality and just BE.

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YOU know who you are!

 

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Make peace with who you are right now. Photography by PhoTah

Wishing you all the best!

And, as you celebrate yourself, remember to…

Live, Love & Laugh Littlepianodiva Style!

M

x

 

 

Hey Sand Stars!

I hope everyone’s enjoying a happy summer. As many of us have wound down after a busy first half of 2016, it’s important that we take this fabulous, fun time to travel, eat and make merry with our friends and loved ones.

Due to work commitments and other constraints, however, many of us need to look at alternatives to journeying to far-flung magical locations (yes, Europe- I will miss you this year! 😦 ). Living in Dubai, I’m grateful to be surrounded by fabulous resorts which often have awesome deals for summer staycations.

Atlantis The Palm is most probably the busiest high-end 5-star hotel in Dubai. My stay at the resort was an epic time full of of relaxation and tanning (courtesy the hotel’s luxury accommodation and Royal Pool); serious fun at Aquaventure (side note: make sure you stay hydrated if you’re outside for long periods of time- trust me, heatstroke is NO fun, compadre). For casual dining, check out Asia Republic (close to Aquaventure)- they honestly have the BEST Thai green curry EVER.

For fine dining, check out Ayamna for delicious Lebanese cuisine (see Facebook for some photos from my experience).

Considering the resort is extremely busy (as most family-focused holiday properties are); the indoor aquarium was very quiet and relaxing. For the more adventurous folk; try many of the hotel’s unique experiences such as swimming with dolphins etc.

Upon my return, I felt very refreshed and ready to tackle a pile of work and personal projects with more motivation and gusto than I had before my getaway.

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Atlantis The Palm’s Unique Lobby

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My ‘Little Mermaid’ Moment with a New Friend at Atlantis The Palm’s Aquarium

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Obligatory Pool Selfie

Make time to have fun and unwind this summer and then hit the rest of 2016 with everything you’ve got! (PS: for some ideas on what to pack and where to go when considering travelling, check out Holidays In Heels. PPS: Theme song of this getaway: Relax, Take It Easy!)

Live, Love & Laugh Littlepianodiva Style,

M

x

 

 

Hey Sand Stars!

OK. Let me be brutally honest: I’m not very good at exercising. I enjoy it for a few weeks and then I get distracted by life.

Or…you know: CAKE…

Anyway, I was introduced to a new fitness craze called Speedflex (which originated in Dallas), which has its Middle Eastern headquarters is right here in Dubai. A typical session can range from 30 minutes and focusses on providing a high intensity, low impact cardio and resistance workout.

The machines used (you are guided by personal trainers who adapt the workouts to your individual needs) may look simple enough, but they are unique in that they make adjustments depending on how much force you apply. The coolest thing about the training regime is that you don’t feel muscle pain, the same way you would had you worked out intensively on your usual gym equipment! That means I could go straight into 6-inch-heels for a performance the very next day after training!

An induction session includes a health assessment so that you are aware of the areas in your body and overall health that needs work. Trainers work with you to reach your personal fitness goals; even in a session that could include about 8 people or more. Your fitness levels are monitored throughout the course of your training so you will be able to visualise your progress. Trust me, seeing your heart rate up on the screen is a real incentive to keep going!

I enjoyed my first session and- for someone who gets rather intimidated by fitness machines and training sessions -I could actually complete the training successfully in one piece and with a smile! Considering that the clientele ranges from 20-60 years old, I reckon anyone could reach the level of a Speedflex ambassador such as Alan Shearer (former England football captain).

The Speedflex Middle East headquarters is at the JA Ocean View Hotel in Dubai and the centre manager is the lovely Brit, Kayleigh Dawson, a 23-year-old enthusiastic and knowledgeable fitness enthusiast and former swimmer. For more on Speedflex and the training schedules, check out www.speedflex.com. There is a Ramadan promotion on now too, so don’t miss out on keeping healthy!

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First Stop on the Speedflex Train!

 

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Getting Summer Ready (and serious about my health) on the Speedflex System

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With Speedflex Centre Manager Kayleigh Dawson

 

Hey Sand Stars

A recent collaboration with a watch brand has made me think about the concept of time.

We live our days like robots: Get up. Go to work. Come home. Sleep. Repeat. Often, we are so wrapped up in work projects, our family, partners or friends and life’s little (or big!!) issues that we forget to simply stop and focus.

It’s important to be present in each moment to give time its’ due: because not one minute is returned. One way to practise being more present is to do mindfulness meditation at least 2o minutes each day (OK, I only do 10 minutes; but that’s a start!) The aim is to meditate, using your breath as an anchor when thoughts or emotions and sensations in the body arise. Have a look here for more details: Mindfulness.

By being mindful and focussed on the ‘now’, we actually end up being more productive, less judgemental and more objective. This allows us to be more successful in our professions and stronger to deal with any situation, because we are not ‘feeding’ into heightened emotions like anger or sadness. Although one should allow and acknowledge the presence of emotions (such as the latter); mindfulness teaches us to be more observant of these emotions than allowing them to take over our sense of perspective.

There are a number of guided meditations that can be found on Youtube. I suggest you alternate and find the one that works best for you.

Let’s all try and be present for each moment in time; let nothing pass you by. Life is precious and every minute is a treasure.

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Photo: stacykeibler.com