Here We Start – Issue #52

Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Iman Ben Chaibah, founder of Sail Publishing, a digital publishing house for online magazines and ebooks, and editor in chief of the Emirati Sail Magazine, an online magazine about community and culture written in English by Emirati columnists. Iman is a multi award winner in digital publishing, entrepreneurship, and literature. Iman has also completed the Leadership Strategies in Magazine Media Course in Yale University. Besides her work in publishing, she also lectures in Canadian University in Dubai.
Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

As we publish our 52nd Issue, we are entering the holy month of Ramadan. A month in which we learn all over again to be patient, humble, and human; a month in which we rekindle our family relationships and we give back to the community in every possible way. In the spirit of all that, I wish you a blessed month, filled with prayers and faith, giving back to the community, reconnecting with your family; close & far, and lots of productivity.

Artwork by Maryam Zainal (@Maryam_Zainal)

Artwork by Maryam Zainal (@Maryam_Zainal)

This month we are joined with three new columnists:

  • Mariam Ketait with her column “Ebb & Flow”. Dr. Mariam is a general practitioner specializing in family medicine, with a Masters in quality in healthcare, and various alternative healing certifications including Theta Healing, Spiritual response therapy, Pranic healing and Access consciousness.
    Mariam looks at health from a holistic perspective and believes that our bodies respond to our thought patterns and emotional behaviors. She also believes that health is attainable and that a happy life is a healthy one. Mariam created the concept of “ebb and flow” to reflect how we can deal with the various tides of life by flowing in harmony with our inner wellbeing to achieve health. Her column will cover common health topics with an approach to conditions in a mind body spirit framework.
  • Sadiqa Sohail with her column “Little Doses of Happiness”.  Sidiqa is 23 years old and is half-Emirati and half-Pakistani. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the American University of Sharjah and a Master’s degree in Conflict Prevention, Sustainable Peace, and Security from the University of Durham in the UK. Sidiqa owns and manages the boutique-café concept store “Spontiphoria” in Wasl Square, Jumeirah and loves baking cakes and curling up with her cats and a good book.
  • Sarah Al Marashi with her column “LOL – Live Out Loud”. Sarah is an award winning entrepreneur, business development specialist, life coach, writer, banking and investments professional with over 15 years of corporate experience working for some of the largest organizations in the region including Citibank, Dubai Holding, and HSBC. She has spearheaded many high profile startups and helped them explore opportunities, win awards and achieve breakthrough results. She is currently the co-founder & Group CEO of the award winning firm Infin8Ventures. Sarah is a certified Co-Active Life Coach, holds a BSc in General Business (Honors), an MBA and Graduate Degree in Finance from the US & a graduate of the Dubai Holding Future Leaders Program (LeadOn). An entrepreneur since she was 8 years old, Sarah has always believed that creativity & innovation are key drivers to growth.
    Sarah believes in the possibility of everything and is inspired by human potential. Her passion is to touch people’s lives by helping those in need, spreading kindness and inspiration by creating opportunities for learning, personal and business growth through her column and hopes to re-ignite the dreamer in all of us and inspire us to make those dreams a reality.

And now to our issue #52 – July 2014 in brief:

Hats off to our amazing editorial team: Aida AlBusaidy and Dhabya AlMuhairi. Enjoy our reads, and don’t forget to check out our illustrations by our creative team: Hayat AlHassan, Marwa Fuad, and Maryam Zainal.

To keep up with our monthly-published issues and to know about any of our coming events, make sure you register with us by clicking here

Help us spread the word about the magazine and share the articles with your friends!

Warm regards,
Iman Ben Chaibah
Editor in Chief

Ela Jary; To My Neighbor

As part of our support to Ela Jary‘s campaign, we opened the door for a member of their team to tell us more about their initiative, how it started, and how to be part of it.

Ela Jary

The month of Ramadan is a Holy month for Muslims and was blessed upon them as part of the five pillars of Islam. It’s a month filled with many benefits; one of which is the reviving of relationships and communicating with our neighbors. This is why we, a group of young Emiratis, came up with the idea of Ela Jary, which translates from Arabic into ‘to my neighbor’. The idea goes back to when our two social groups merged together, “Social bandage” and “1971 Team”. Since then, we have been committed to give back to the community. It is our responsibility as the youth of this country to take care of our community and give back to it.

Ela Jary is a Ramadan socio-culture movement that is designed to revive relationships amongst neighbors, and push them to communicate more. This is done by advocating people to send food or flowers to their neighbors along with printing and filling our greeting cards. You fill the card with your neighbor’s name, a short message, and your name. You then take a picture or a video of your gift along with the card and post it on your social media accounts tagging us on @ela_jary. The purpose of this is to reignite the forgotten tradition of gifting your neighbors during Ramadan specially and across the year generally, and as for the social media element, it is meant to adovocate more and more people to join the campaign.

Another major step in this initiative is to send food to all of our neighbors. Muslims have always been very kind when it comes to sending food because it is a practice that originates from their religion, Islam. Sending food is a kind gesture and it shows a friendly attitude towards your neighbor, which creates a friendlier environment amongst neighbors.

The reason this movement is geared around neighbor-to-neighbor bonding is because we all should know our neighbors. Albeit; sending food to your family and friends across town is still a very generous act, but this initiative is about our neighbors who we are surrounded by, they are the ones we live next to. They are the ones we see every day when we are walking down the street or leave our homes. It’s important to create strong bonds with our neighbors because it will promote peace and social cohesion within communities. Hopefully one day it will become a monthly activity, but right now we are focusing on Ramadan because more people will take part and are willing to do more good during that month.

On the one hand, there are many events that target a particular group of people, be it the youth or elders. On the other hand, our goal is to get everyone to participate. Ela Jary aims to reach out to the community, the youth, the locals and all society’s members, because the act of kindness is part of the Emirati culture and its traditions, the teachings of our religion, and it’s about time we practiced it.

We hope we get enough support from our community and society to continue this every Ramadan. Every year, we aim to create new initiatives to spread awareness and promote the act of kindness. This initiative started in Dubai but is spreading around the UAE and the Gulf quickly. Countries like Kuwait and Bahrain have shown us their support to the initiative through social media.

We hope Ela Jary will help bring people together. From observing people around us, it has become painfully clear that in this day and age people interact with each other much less. We hope we will be able to bring back this type of tradition through social media. We will inspire the youth and showcase people who are doing good. It’s in our religion and culture to participate in an initiative like this, so let’s all take this step together, and make this a blessed Ramadan.

Download the link of our greeting card on this link, and follow us on social media via @Ela_jary.

Metamorphosis – Hear My Echo’s Competition Winner

We collaborated recently with Hear My Echo (@HearMyEcho_AE) on their writing competition: “This is how the story ends”, in which the ending was written by HME’s team, and the contestants were asked to write their own story plot that would end with the given ending. The result was a number of very creative stories. And the winner selected by the judges is: Amna AlHashemi (@hashemitsu). Congratulations Amna!

HME Metamorphesis

Here is the winning story (the italized part at the end is the ending that was given to all contestants):

My hands can’t seem to move fast enough, and my fingers fumble around in my bag for the keys. I can feel my breath catching in my throat, see the edges of my vision fade to black, and hear the blood rushing in my ears. I dig deeper until I finally feel the metal fall into my palm, and I turn the lock as fast as I can manage. With a shove I push the door open, and lean back on it as it closes.

I’m home. I’m safe again.

I feel the tension slowly escape my limbs, and the relief sucks the energy out of me. I sigh and wait for my heart beat to stabilize. This is usually what takes the longest to settle down.

When I think I have enough strength to move again, I pick up the grocery bags and move them to the kitchen. I still think I need to lie down, so I head to my bedroom. I shut the curtains against the dying light of the sun and cover the room in a quiet darkness. I curl up into a ball on my bed.

They say time heals everything. But time is endless, and my heart still beats in dull rhythms. I feel nothing but emptiness and sorrow, and I can’t do anything about it. It’s as if something in me is bleeding from its very core, and I can’t locate the hole to block the leakage.

I can’t remember the last time I spoke to another person. I am merely a lifeless frame now, with no one else in the picture. The fear of the outside world holds me hostage and I simply remain right where I am, with nothing but the past to define me.

I jump awake when I hear the sound of my apartment door clicking open.

“Whoa, it’s dark in here.” I hear someone mumble into the silence. My fear comes back full force, and I freeze.

Someone pushes my bedroom door open. “Is someone in here?”

I can tell now the voice belongs to a female. She finds the light switch and flips it open, blinding me momentarily with the sudden brightness. I cover my face with my hands and try to find my voice to speak.

She gasps when she sees me, and I peek from behind my fingers at her.

“Oh thank God, you’re human!” She laughs and then starts to take in her surroundings. “Oops, I’m sorry, didn’t know someone was still here. If you were thinking of buying this apartment, you’re too late ‘cause I just beat you to it.” She beams proudly at me. I still can’t speak.

“Oh, right! Totally forgot.” She moves forward suddenly and extends her hand towards me. “I’m Sara, by the way.”

Some strange force must have taken over my arm, because I can see my right hand extend towards hers and shake it, but I can’t feel it.

“Aaaand, you are?” She waits patiently for me to answer, a smirk playing along her lips.

“Maria. I’m…Maria.” I mumble. “I think you’ve made a mistake. This apartment is mine, and it’s not for sale.”

She looks genuinely confused now, and she rips out a paper from her bag. She waves it in my face and sits back on her suitcase. “You sure about that, missy? I own this place legally.”

I move slowly towards the side of my bed and open the drawer next to it. I pull out a very similar document to the one she showed me as proof.

She looks back and forth between the paper in my hand and my face. She sits quietly for a moment, then shrugs and says, “Well then, I’ll guess we’ll be roomies.” She smiles widely, and launches into a speech on where she wants to place her stuff.

I should be having a heart attack by now, but Sara doesn’t seem to notice my social anxiety. She just keeps going on about herself and making herself comfortable in my house. I tell her to stop many times but she doesn’t seem to listen, and I eventually give up. I head to bed, expecting to wake up to find my safe haven just the way it is every morning.

It’s probably just a bad dream.

Except, it’s not.

The following days become my worst nightmare.

Sara shakes me awake in the morning, again, and then walks away. I look around, still half-asleep and I think I’m still dreaming. She’s taken over the entire apartment and changed everything.

“Rise and shine, sleepy head! Big day ahead of us, move it move it move it!”

This can’t be happening.

“It’s the weekend.” I mumble to myself and pull the covers over my head.

“Oh, no you didn’t!” Sara moves the curtains aside to let in the morning light. “I’m not just gonna let you rot away in this black hole, we’re goin’ out! Time to seize the day!”

The irritation slowly creeps into my voice, and I feel the rage building. “No.”

Sara doesn’t seem to catch on to my tone, and she simply laughs. “Not a morning person, eh?”

Not anymore.

“Look Sara,” I stand and face her. “I don’t know who you are, or what you’re doing here, but you don’t get to just waltz into my life and flip everything upside down. I don’t want to leave my room, I don’t want to hang out with you or anyone else, and I don’t want to be your roommate. Please leave me alone.”

The smile doesn’t fully leave her face, but her eyes turn a more serious shade. “Are you sure about that? Are you happy this way?”

“Yes. Yes, I am.”

Sara looks away from me and scans the room. She nods, and leaves the room.

I’m not sure how long I just stood there, but the real answer was there all along. I just didn’t want to admit it.

No, of course I’m not happy.

I follow Sara out of the room and find her sitting on the couch. She stares at me expectantly, and I hear the words escape my mouth before I think them.

“So, how do you seize the day?” She replies with the biggest smile I’ve seen yet, and surprisingly, I can’t help but mirror her joy.

I think I can trust her.

It was very hard at first, but I managed to go out during the day again. I was physically aware of all the eyes that were on us, especially because of Sara whose energy and charisma is above average. But she never left my side, and she took me everywhere. We had breakfast out by the balcony of a local café, we went shopping and we walked all over the town.

It wasn’t that bad.

Sara pokes my shoulder and frowns. “Why so serious? You missed it, that kid fell flat on his face and-”

“Do you think it’s possible to gain a best friend overnight?” I interrupt Sara. The words seem to flow out of me, the usual filter in my mind seemingly nonexistent.

She waits for a minute before she answers me. “Anything is possible if you want it to be, right?”

We’re sitting on a bench by the park, and I look ahead at a group of schoolgirls playing volleyball. I laugh suddenly, but without humor. “I’m sorry, I just don’t understand. You’re like the exact opposite of who I am, and everything I wish I can become. You’re so full of life, courageous, vibrant…happy. And yet, look at me.”

I can feel Sara looking at me curiously, but I continue to stare ahead.

“So?”

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I can’t help my disappointment at her one-worded response.

“If there’s something you’re waiting to hear from me, then you already know the answer. Look around you, Maria. Do you think these people haven’t gone through hard times? Felt broken hearted? Beyond repair? And yet, look at them now.”

I see the schoolgirls still tossing the ball around, the old couple sitting together beside the water fountain, the toddler giggling in his father’s lap.

“Time doesn’t wait for anyone Maria, no matter how much we wish we can pause it. Don’t give up on yourself, and become everything you want to be. The past will still be there, but there’s an entire future up ahead that you can start over with.”

The tears roll down my face, and Sara simply pats my shoulder.

“You’re ready to live again.”

We head home, and as I walk I already feel like I’m lighter on my feet. Sara opens the door and gestures for me to walk in ahead of her. I turn to thank her, for everything, but I find no one. I look around the room and realize none of Sara’s stuff is around either.

I stand there unable to move, the truth was right in front of me all along but my imagination ran way beyond my wildest dreams. She who helped me through, she who got me so high up in the sky that no matter how far I fell I’ll still land among the stars, and she who made me believe in what I once thought was impossible is just another character I made up. Did I loose my mind, or did life make me fall so hard I can no longer differentiate between what is real and what is nothing but a character of my imagination? Someone created by the chain of words that run through my mind and someone whose picture I drew based on the features I admired the most. How can it be unreal when it made me feel alive? How can it be nothing when it felt like everything? 

Takatof

Omar Al Owais (@OMSAlowais)

Omar Al Owais (@OMSAlowais)

Omar is an International Relations Student at the American University of Sharjah, with a passion towards politics and a devotion towards the rhythmic arts of poetry and prose.
https://omaralowais.wordpress.com
Omar Al Owais (@OMSAlowais)

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Article in brief: A take on “Takatof”, their Ramadan initiatives and what they mean for the community.

Some of Takatof's Initiatives

Some of Takatof’s Initiatives

Ramadan has begun, a 30-day opportunity to cleanse our souls and rid it of its impurities. Whilst we are blessed with all the means of having a comfortable and easygoing month of fasting, praying and self-discovery; many others don’t.

As muslims, we often provide charity in the form of money to the needy to fulfill the essence of giving that Islam promotes, and by providing voluntary aid. By providing monetary aid, you are helping the needy for a temporary period of time, until the money runs out. By volunteering, however, you are exhibiting acts of kindness, and the effects of those acts will be imprinted on the souls of those whom you are helping. Such acts can be volunteering at the Old People’s Home or visiting a Children’s center. Not only are we benefitting the needy, but we are benefitting ourselves too.

By stepping out of our comfort zone and volunteering, we’re allowing ourselves the satisfaction and joy gained from the gift of giving; we’re ridding our souls of the stains of vanity, with the essence of humility. We’re exemplifying a vital trait that this society was built upon; team work. We often hear tales from our grandparents as to how families would help each other out when the breadwinner would be out at sea, or when a family member has passed away or even as a marriage is approaching. The relationships built during those times have been sustained until today, in many cases, and have been inherited on to the coming generations.

Nowadays, volunteering is an effective method to bring that aspect of our culture back to life. On the auspicious occasion of Ramadan, Emirates Foundation’s project ‘Takatof’ has launched several volunteering opportunities throughout the course of this Holy Month, and attached below is a table with the many initiatives that you can participate in.

takatof timelines

Meer Ramadan, for example, is specialized in the distribution of food aid to families in need, Mobadarat Al Khair is in charge of the distribution of materials such as clothes and electronic appliances donated by philanthropists to needy families across the country. Bait Al Khair is an initiative suitable for those interested in renovating the houses of the needy, Meyah Al Khair volunteers will distribute drinking water. To conclude this program, Mesk Al Khetam will include the distribution of gifts to children with incurable diseases as their “Eidiya”.

To join Takatof you need to register on their website: http://takatof.ae/en

I wish you all a Ramadan Kareem.

What Is Health?

Dr. Mariam Ketait (@ebbbndflow)

Dr. Mariam Ketait (@ebbbndflow)

Dr. Mariam Ketait is a general practitioner specializing in family medicine, with masters in quality in healthcare and various alternative healing certifications including Theta Healing, Spiritual response therapy, Pranic healing and Access consciousness.
Mariam looks at health from a holistic perspective and believes that our bodies respond to our thought patterns and emotional behaviors. She also believes that health is attainable and that a happy life is a healthy one. Mariam created the concept of "ebb and flow" to reflect how we can deal with the various tides of life by flowing in harmony with our inner wellbeing to achieve health. The column will cover common health topics with an approach to conditions in a mind body spirit framework.
Dr. Mariam Ketait (@ebbbndflow)

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Article in brief: An invitation to look at health as an attainable state of being.

Artwork by Marwa Fuad (@Marwah_f1)

Artwork by Marwa Fuad (@Marwah_f1)

The world health organization (WHO) defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

I invite you to look at health as a state of being. A state inclusive but not limited to the absence of disease. A state of being that comprises an open receptive mind frame, balanced emotional states and optimal physical function. And with that comes the absence of disease.

My approach to a healthy lifestyle starts from the thoughts, because healthy thoughts lead to a healthy state of being. So when I tackle a health concern, I look at the physical aspect of it: and by that I mean what caused the discord physically (this is usually done by a thorough clinical history and physical exam along with laboratory investigations). This gives me a snap shot of what is going on inside the body, and how we can alleviate the symptoms or restore balance.

I then look at the mind frame, the emotional state and the spiritual aspect of the condition. This means taking a closer look at the thought processes and emotional patterns that are stored in the energetic space of the client. This is done by taking the client in a meditative state and using a questioning method to dig deeper into the root cause of the condition. Usually, this can be a stored traumatic incident or unresolved feelings about a previous experience. Emotional blocks are a result of belief systems and thought patterns that when left unattended to can result in physical manifestations of disease.

Sometimes, just by being aware of those blocks and releasing the emotions stored with them clients will experience instantaneous relief of symptoms.

Our greatest strength as humans is that any negative pattern we have learned, we are also capable of unlearning once we become aware of it. It is thus important to have self-awareness. And this can only be done by looking at oneself devoid of judgment, of conclusions and of pre-anticipated points of views. Once self-awareness is achieved it is only a matter of time before vitality, emotional intelligence, and a healthy state of being is restored.

In the coming months, I will be addressing common health conditions and looking at them from a body-mind-spirit approach and shedding light on how to handle medical conditions with ease. Health is being present in the moment and receiving all the joy that comes from being alive. Here’s to that!

Cruise Collections’ Prominence

Reem Al Suwaidi (@LumeiRee)

Reem Al Suwaidi (@LumeiRee)

Column: Habillez-Moi (which means “dress me” in French)
Reem is a fashion fanatic. She used her talents of critiquing to start a blog called “We Voice Fashion” along with a partner that shares her views on the world of fashion and design. Through her column, she likes to explore fashion in a philosophical way at times.
http://wevoicefashion.com
Reem Al Suwaidi (@LumeiRee)

Article in brief: The author explores the role of resort collections in the industry.

Artwork by Maryam Zainal (@Maryam_Zainal)

Artwork by Maryam Zainal (@Maryam_Zainal)

It’s resort season, and designers are giving us an idea of what to expect for the main Summer 2015 collections. The many different collections in fashion can get a little too complicated but to put it simple, cruise collections are placed between the winter and summer season. Though the industry doesn’t make such a fuss about cruise collections as much as it does for the main season’s collection, cruise collection still maintains its significance. The question is, what makes resort (or cruise) so significant that designers go on creating more of it?

“Cruise” is actually derived from collections that designers create for their “jet-set” clients who can wear such clothes for their summer vacation. To a designer, the cruise collection is in some way more limited in terms of creativity, and instead must focus on the clothes being wearable to suit consumer’s tastes, to be extra practical, and with less fuss.

There are designers who take advantage of the cruise collection to reconstruct their artistic vision into a realistic version of the piece. I find that idea to be a little challenging to a designer yet also another way to demonstrate his talents in accordance to whatever’s required by the consumer.

For example, an imaginative designer like John Galliano was particularly focused on designing clothes that more or less pushed beyond pedestrian definitions of wear-ability, usually producing outlandish pieces for Dior back when he used to design for the French house. The same can be said for Alexander McQueen; you never saw what was on the runway being sold in stores. Imagine how dull it would be for them to reinterpret those fabulous creations onto a simple t-shirt or jeans.

In accordance to that, Galliano’s cruise collections for Dior weren’t as popular as the summer’s or the winter’s, mainly because he had to tone it down. I believe that summer collections heavily depend on the success of the cruise collection. After all, if buyers or the press thought that cruise was unpleasant, they would be ruthless with their comments, and might predict a bad outcome for the summer collection. Here, cruise comes into play. It’s all about how the designer can play around with the theme in a relaxed way, while still preserving the brand’s signature.

On the other hand, we have designers like Christopher Bailey (designs for Burberry Prorsum) who take the opportunity to reimagine their runway creations on more practical clothes for the brand’s consumer. Imagine him taking the structure of a lace metallic coat, and recreating it into a user-friendly black cruise version minus the metallic. Bailey’s attempt at restoration was not only an effective route to take, but it also established the fact that Burberry Prorsum’s cruise collections must be watched out for. Who doesn’t want to get their hands on an artistic and classic piece?

“Cruise has become really big business and currently represents the largest part of the spring/summer womenswear buy,” says Laura Larbalestier, Selfridges buying manager for women’s designer-wear in a British Vogue article. “It’s especially key for customers living in the UK as it fills that transitional period from January onwards where people are looking to update their wardrobes but aren’t ready to wear spring collections yet. The cruise woman wears Pucci, Cavalli and Stella, understands dressing for the season and is well travelled.”

I find myself wondering, does cruise keep us, the consumers, coming back for more? The answer is a definite yes. As a shopper, uncovering new patterns about what I like and what I don’t like always come up throughout my lifetime. As of now I am thoroughly interested in transitional pieces; clothes that you can wear for several seasons without having to think if it’s still in trend or not. That’s cruise. Having to wear what you love whenever, wherever.

Pumpkin and Sage Bruschetta and the Joy of Small Things

Sidiqa Sohail (@sid_90)

Sidiqa Sohail (@sid_90)

Column: Musings of An Entrepreneur

Sidiqa is 25 years old and is half-Emirati and half-Pakistani. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the American University of Sharjah and a Master’s degree in Conflict Prevention, Sustainable Peace, and Security from the University of Durham in the UK. Sidiqa owns and manages the boutique-café concept store “Spontiphoria” in Wasl Square, Jumeirah.
Sidiqa Sohail (@sid_90)

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Article in brief:  A simple and easy recipe for bruschetta that is always a winner and some thoughts on what makes life that little bit happier and more special.

Picture Taken by Sadiqa Sohail

Picture Taken by Sadiqa Sohail

The best things in life are always those that we can’t quantify; moments. With most of us having incredibly fast-paced lifestyles, simple things such as an indulgent, leisurely lunch or a spontaneous stroll by the beach become special treats. The key to a happy life is to get as many of these small little pleasures as possible. In my opinion, there’s nothing better than cooking up a delicious meal for those you care about and chatting over the table for hours on end.

All of life’s little moments should be made as special as possible. Why should you only set the table beautifully when you have guests over? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to sit down to a meal at home every day- even if it was something as simple as soup and toast- while using your best china? Life’s too short to pull out all the stops only once in a while.

As a new writer at Sail eMagazine, I’d like to introduce you to my column and its inaugural post. I believe that the small little details make all the difference, and so in this column I hope to share things that brighten up everyday life, such as a quick delicious recipe, an easy but beautiful arts and crafts project, or a creative and simple way to set your table or arrange some flowers.

For my first post, I’d like to share with you a recipe I always make whenever I have good friends over for a special evening. I love bite-sized treats and finger food- they’re dainty, delicate, and make it easy for people to chat and mingle casually. There’s nothing as wonderful as an elegant piece of food that’s crafted in such a way to be eaten in just a couple of (or even one) bites. They are a delight to the eye and look dazzling when arranged in platters. They work great as party food because they’re quick to make, easy to eat, and provide a lovely variety for guests to choose from.

Bruschetta with pumpkin and sage

Ingredients

  • 1 French baguette, cut into 15 2cm thick slices
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp soft brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 300g butternut pumpkin, cut into 1cm cubes
  • ½ tsp chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp shredded sage leaves
  • 3 tbsp crumbled feta cheese, optional
  • Basil leaves, to garnish

 Procedure

  • On a heated grill pan, lightly toast the baguette slices for 1-2 minutes on each side or until crisp.
  • In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and then add the onion. Stir to coat in the oil and continue stirring on medium heat for 5 minutes or until onions have become translucent.
  • Reduce the heat and cover the pan with the lid for 10 minutes, checking often and giving the mixture a stir so that it browns evenly. Halfway through, stir in the brown sugar and balsamic vinegar.
  • Once the onion mixture has caramelized add the butternut pumpkin and the chili flakes and stir to coat it with the onion. Slightly increase the heat and continue stirring for five minutes. Place the lid on the pan and allow to cook for 10 minutes.
  • Next, remove the lid and add the chopped sage leaves, stirring thoroughly. Continue stirring for about five more minutes or until the pumpkin has cooked through. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Add in the feta cheese now if using. Then, take heaped teaspoons of the onion/pumpkin mixture and spread over each baguette slice. Garnish with a basil leaf.

Enjoy!

 

Considering The Possibilities Of What You Are

Sarah Al Marashi (@Sarah888)

Sarah Al Marashi (@Sarah888)

Column: LOL – Living Out Loud
Sarah is an award-winning entrepreneur, business development specialist, life coach, writer, banking and investments professional with over 15 years of experience. She is the co-founder of the award-winning firm Infin8Ventures. Through her column, she hopes to re-ignite the dreamer in all of us and inspire us to make those dreams a reality.
Sarah Al Marashi (@Sarah888)

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Article in brief: the author urges the readers to believe in themselves being powerful, creative and much more, and helps the reader reach those states.

Artwork by Maryam Zainal (@Maryam_Zainal)

Artwork by Maryam Zainal (@Maryam_Zainal)

I would like to invite you to take a moment to consider this statement; it’s something I heard Gary Zukav, the author of “The Seat of the Soul”, say in an interview recently.

“Consider the possibility that you are a powerful, creative, compassionate and loving spirit.” – Gary Zukav.

Read it again. Take a moment to think it over and consider each word. Powerful is the feeling of being formidable and capable of anything. Creative is the ability to tap into your imagination, to be resourceful and inventive. Compassionate is to be human, kind and empathatic. And Loving is in the care, sympathy and tenderness you show to yourself and those around you. Each of those words holds so much depth. Now, I invite you to use those words and say to yourself “I am a powerful, creative, compassionate and loving spirit”

How did that make you feel? How near or far are you from feeling that way about yourself? If where you are at this moment in your life is an affirmation of that statement then that’s great; you’re on the right path. However, if your feelings are far from that statement, then you are not alone. Like most, including myself, there are moments in our personal/professional relationships that have made us feel powerless, stuck in a rut or in a monotonous routine of daily life. We might have been left feeling uninspired, unfulfilled, unsatisfied and maybe even unloved. Recognizing those feelings is actually the first step; knowing it’s okay to feel that way is the second, and then realizing that it doesn’t have to be that way and that we have a choice is the third.

Things happen in life that knock the wind out of our sails and that’s okay. In an age of constant motion and connectivity, we often lose touch with ourselves and stray off of our paths, because we are so busy in moving that we forget to listen to our internal compass. Read the quote again; if you aren’t feeling your power then this is an opportunity to fix that. Just be still, be patient with yourself, spend some time reflecting on things and think about what you would like to choose. Believe me, there will be a breeze coming along shortly that will fill your sails with a renewed push and have you on your way again.

Every successful journey is filled with bumps, pauses and rest stops at its different stages that allowed those taking the journey to reassess, review, recalibrate and reposition themselves before moving on with a clearer focus towards their goals and dreams. Failures and mistakes are part of the learning process. They provide valuable insights and learnings on the task at hand. It is often fear of failure and making mistakes that stops us from even trying to go after our dreams.

What would you do today if you knew you could not fail? What direction would you choose to go? What idea or dream would you work on? What project would you start? Write it down and this time instead of considering all the risks; choose to consider all the possibilities.

You are powerful beyond your wildest dreams and more creative than you know. Imagine the sense of empowerment, the motivation, the uplifting feeling of knowing this. It makes me smile just thinking about it and fills my heart with hope and wonder.

5 Ideas For A Happier Life

Budoor Al Yousuf (@BAlYousuf)

Budoor Al Yousuf (@BAlYousuf)

Budoor takes a unique look at the world around her. She applies a sense of the mystical to everyday happenstance and turns it on its head. The result is her column: “Mental Pondering”.
With a background in communications, her passion for writing is driven by the need to voice her thoughts. Budoor also hold an eMBA in innovation and Entrepreneurship, other than writing, her interests include reading and traveling.
Budoor Al Yousuf (@BAlYousuf)

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Article in brief: Sometimes it only takes some minor ideas to live a happier life, however, nowadays people are so bombarded with books and blogs for positivity it is very difficult to know what to do.

Artwork by Marwa Fuad (@Marwah_f1)

Artwork by Marwa Fuad (@Marwah_f1)

“Living a happier life” is a cliché that has been used and abused by many over the years. There are hundreds of books, and thousands of blogs and motivational speakers who claim that their message is the key to happiness, however, knowing which of these work is the tricky part.

This article revolves around only 5 ideas that have been extracted from reading many books and research based articles, and also through personal trial and error. Under each idea, the concept and the method of execution will be explained.

  1. Breathe
      • The concept: breathing isn’t anything new, it is the 1st thing humans do and the last, but breathing isn’t necessarily something your body does to stay alive. When shutting out everything from the mind and concentrating on the sound of your breathing, the body starts to relax allowing the person a break from the stresses of life and instantly lightning up ones mood.
      • The method:

i.     Lay still for a minimum of 2 minutes and maximum of 10 minutes at least once a day and up to 5 times a day.

ii.     Shut out all thoughts and ideas from your mind.

iii.     Listen to your breathing and nothing else.

  1. Connect
      • The concept: people are so busy all day long thinking about tasks, problems, issues, life, work, friends and so on, they forget to stop and look around them. Everyone has been through cases where they suddenly notice a building has come up or a new shop has opened or that someone walked right past them without them noticing. Connecting with the surroundings offers a great opportunity of living in the moment and not thinking about the million other things that are going on.
      • The method:

i.     Leave your phone and all other distractions aside.

ii.     Look around you and take in your surroundings, think about the colors around you, the temperature, your posture, and the sounds you hear.

iii.     Forget about everything else.

  1. Concentrate
      • The concept: when concentrating in doing something, even if it is eating, the awareness and full dedication to what is happening now and in the present allows a person to fully indulge in the task. This allows a person to feel happy if the food is good, helps in reducing stress while working, and eliminates distractions to help the stream of thoughts to continue and hence the task to be accomplished faster.
      • The method:

i.     Sit in a comfortable place.

ii.     Minimize distractions.

iii.     Concentrate on the task at hand.

iv.     Resist the distractions.

  1. Practice hobbies
      • The concept: a hobby is a skill a person has that doesn’t necessary reflect their professional or educational experience. It is a distraction that also has rewards. Practicing a hobby regularly helps increase one’s morals and feel more satisfied with their accomplishments without the stress of performing tasks related to work or school. Having a variety of hobbies is good, especially if a person gets bored quickly or has hobbies that can’t be practiced at anytime.
      • The method:

i.     Dedicate a time for the hobby.

ii.     Practice it and increase your skill in it.

iii.     Don’t make it competitive as competition leads to stress.

  1. Release
      • The concept: letting go is very difficult, but the sooner a person lets go of what is bothering them the happier they will be, although it is one of the more difficult tasks, releasing your grip over anything that might cause you discomfort like a fight with a loved one, a job, or exams.
      • The method:

i.     Take a deep breath and while exhaling release whatever you are gripping and let it be.

ii.     Do not think about it at all.

iii.     Live and let live.

By trying these methods and perhaps choosing one or two that suits the  person best, an effect in reduction of stress levels and an elevated sense of happiness can be felt within a week. The best results however are only shown by regular practice of these method on a long period of time.

 

De-Clutter Your Way to New Beginnings

Bahar Al Awadhi (@bahargpedram)

Bahar Al Awadhi (@bahargpedram)

Column Name: The Words Within
Bahar is a recruiter by profession, an aspiring writer by night, and a mom of toddler twins. She has an unending thirst for learning, as she completed her BComm in Canada, an MA in Dubai, and continues to develop herself with reading and research.
With her column, she shares her journey as she grows and learns more about this crazy beautiful world we live in.
Bahar Al Awadhi (@bahargpedram)

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Article in Brief: Cluttering not only takes up all the space in your house, but can also hold you back from countless other experiences. The author tells us why it’s important to de-clutter and how to get started. 

Artwork by Maryam Zainal (@Maryam_Zainal)

Artwork by Maryam Zainal (@Maryam_Zainal)

Every time I decide to de-clutter, I feel like I am taking a journey down memory lane. I come across so many items that I no longer have any use for, but I still find myself attached to them- to their memory, to the story behind them, and to the notion of what they represent. We hold on to so many things from our past, and are hesitant to let go. The question remains though, what are we so afraid of losing? By giving away what is now merely clutter, does that mean we have also given away a part of our lives?

Then there are those who store things that they may not necessarily be attached to for the sake of sentiment, but rather with the thought that “I will need this someday”. Let’s face it – if you haven’t worn that dress for a year, chances are, you never will. And even further beyond, clutter doesn’t only apply to physical items, but can also take over in a virtual form. Is your laptop homepage or office desktop covered in files from way back, just in case you may need them someday? Are you guilty of being a hoarder and doing any of the above?

If so, you need to know that all this clutter will certainly take a toll on your life, because a cluttered environment is also a cluttered mind. All this junk is simply holding you back from new experiences. It is, therefore, time to confront your junk – whether physical, emotional, or virtual, and start getting rid of it!

You have to realize that letting go of the item won’t make you forget. The memories, the stories, they shall all continue to live through you; but by de-cluttering, you are making space for new beginnings, not only in your home, but also in your heart and mind. Liberate yourself with the thought that you will get another moment, another memory that you’ll treasure. Go on, free that crowded place around and within you. Take one day at a time to rid yourself of something that is no longer of value to you. Free yourself and embrace the new. Remember there is so much more out there that you can add to your life!

And if you still find it difficult, here are some tips to start de-cluttering:

  1. Don’t overwhelm yourself by pursuing a full on de-clutter project. Start slow and approach one drawer or shelf at a time.
  2. Be proactive and keep an eye on items you seem to never use. If it’s been six months to a year, it’s time for it to go!
  3. Keep a watchful eye on the things you bring home. Get to the root of the problem and avoid adding new clutter to your life.

Remember – your clutter could be another person’s treasure. Get into the spirit of sharing and find out if there’s anyone around you who could make use of them. What better way to free yourself than knowing that your clutter has found its way to someone who can create more memories with it.

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References: