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May 31, 2013

5 Steps to beating procrastination this year

By Amina Edota

Bismillah

Procrastination occurs when significant time elapses between when a person intends to perform an action and when they actually do it. This is a temporal gap according to psychologist Professor Clarry Lay, ‘between intended and enacted behavior’. Delaying or putting off unimportant tasks is not procrastination and good reasons for delaying or rescheduling is ok. It is unnecessary excuses that amount to procrastination.

Throughout the year, but mostly during significant periods whether it is the dawn of a new day, sighting the crescent of the new moon or the beginning of a new year; we make internal promises to begin with a fresh start and make positive changes; and sometimes make resolutions to hopefully last far beyond the start.

We see opportunities for change and build upon habits or start new ones, yet quite easily slip back into familiar old ways of making excuses. We must remember that on the Day of Judgment, before taking any step forward, we will be questioned about what we did with our life and youth. It is imperative to take steps today to tackle habits such as procrastination. Engage with the following steps this year for a new you!

1. Be your own mirror: A normal mirror usually shows things as they are. So when you feel that you are procrastinating, use that inner mirror to seek an answer. If you find yourself putting off things rather unnecessarily, get real and be 100% honest with yourself – do not pretend.

2. Turn searchlights on: Seek to understand ‘WHY’ you are procrastinating. Is it due to the size of work or ability to prioritize? Or does it simply deal with the task being boring or are you underestimating your abilities? For each person and task, the reason(s) may differ, but it is very important to recognize as well as admit to them.

3. Draw an Action plan: Whether it is making a to-do list and then organizing it into high/low priority tasks, breaking huge tasks into smaller ones, making tasks time-bound, using prayer times to organize one’s day, working ahead of deadlines, or focusing on one task at a time, draw up a realistic plan to suit your situation.

4. Rewards & Consequences: It could be a special me-time, or a favorite snack; but the idea is to reward oneself for completing a task or even part of the task and boost motivation from the good feeling. Similarly, it is good to note what the unpleasant consequences are for not completing tasks - such as lost marks or time, cost to self and employers and then talk yourself into action.

5. Accountability: Join a focused group, get a personal coach/mentor, involve a friend/family member who can always check up on you and make sure you are on top on your tasks. Motivation can be derived from networking with people, especially those who can offer sincere reminders about the greater accountability to our creator Allah.

Whatever your present reality, break the bad habit and take action ‘NOW’ rather than later. Remember that when we arrive at the end of our lifetime, the angel of death will not stand by waiting for us to overcome our excuses and perform worthy deeds. Our time will not be delayed even by the fraction of a second, so why delay today when the opportunities are many to invest for our hereafter.


References:
www.briantracy.com
www.mindtools.com


I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic.  Please post in the comments section below :)

May 29, 2013

The Reality about Cellulite and Stretch Marks

By Muaaza Essop

Bismillah

Image from http://soliditytrade.com
What is cellulite?

Cellulite is a change in the skin’s appearance, giving it a dimpled or an orange, peeled effect. This is when fat tissue herniates through the connective tissue above it, causing skin a dimpling effect. Why does it appear more frequently in women than in men? This is because female skin is thinner and less porous, thus making it more noticeable.

Almost 85% of adult women have cellulite, and it is common to all body types. While being overweight can accelerate its appearance, even those who are not over weight can experience it. Common areas affected are thighs, gluts, belly and even arms.

To help reduce its appearance, the most effective ways are through diet and exercise.

Machine therapy and certain cosmetic products containing retinol (vitamin A) and caffeine are available on the market, though most advise that they only serve as temporary and expensive ways of reducing the appearance and never eliminating the stretch marks.

Remedies


Consume less sugar. Sugar gets stored in fat cells and causes skin to expand. A maximum of 6 teaspoons a day would benefit. Consume less salt, as this causes fluid retention, accentuating the appearance of cellulite.

Have two teaspoons of flaxseed oil daily, over cereal. It stimulates collagen growth which is a big component of connective tissue. Hydrate! Drink 8-10 glasses of water a day. Eat food with high water content like melons, cucumbers, and leafy greens. Tomato paste, rather than freshly cut tomatoes, contains lycopene which helps to reduce UV sun damage as well as prevents collagen breakdown.

Exercise minimizes cellulite, and helps keep stress levels down.

At the point where active changes cannot be made, the best way is to change ones perspective, and accept it. The most attractive women are those who practice healthy self-perception, carry themselves with confidence, and exude positive energy.

And Stretch Marks?

80% of women have them. Stretch marks, also called striea, occur when the skin is subjected to progressive stretching, causing tears linearly in the dermal tissue. The scars that form are stretch marks. The tendency for these scars to form may be genetic but the extent varies depending on what you do. One may experience itchiness due to skin actually tearing and cracking.

Instances when this occurs are during puberty, pregnancy or extreme weight gain or loss. Scars and stretch marks are healthy and normal skin reactions, but they can be unsightly. While no topical treatment can completely remove scarring at this time, there are some options that reduce redness, or decrease the appearance of white lines and improve skin tone.

Certain laser treatments are available as non-invasive means to reduce the appearance of marks. Creams rich in retinol (Vitamin A) can be applied. But keeping skin hydrated and eating well can help reduce the risk of stretch marks. The use of olive oil and coconut oil, untreated by chemicals, contributes to skin suppleness. Olive oil, shea butter, and cocoa butter are wonderful ways to increase skins suppleness and moisture. Olive oils can help potentially reduce the appearance of these marks. Applying juiced wheat grass or lemon juice promote and reduce pigment and discoloration.

More than anything, a positive attitude towards oneself, a healthy attitude towards exercise, a healthier diet and loving your body for the beauty that it is, is a sure way to become a more comfortable you.

Have a look at these sources.

· Cellulite, What Can we Really Do - http://amanda-russell.com/videos/food-and-life/cellulite-what-can-we-really-do/

· www.thedoctorstv.com

· www.doctoroz.com



I'd love to hear your ideas on this topic.  Please post in the comments section below :)

May 27, 2013

Five Simple ways to long, lustrous, and healthy hair : Part 2

by Amina Wasi

Part I | Part III

Bismillah

Go natural! 

Oils have been used for a long period of time by everyone to promote long and healthy hair. The Prophet (sal Allaahu alayhi wasallam) himself was known to oil his blessed hair. Narrated 'Aisha: The Prophet used to (put) bend his head (out) to me while he was in Iktikaf in the masjid during my monthly periods and I would comb and oil his hair [Sahih Bukhari, Book #33, Hadith #245].

Some oils that are unique to growing and promoting healthy hair are:

Olive oil – Extra virgin oil tops the list and is known to have characteristics of Shifa’a in Islam. It’s great for moisturizing and strengthening your hair as well as thickening and preventing it from damage.

Castor oil – This oil speeds up hair growth and also reduces the undesirable frizz in the hair. It will thicken and prevent your scalp from drying.

Avocado oil – Packed with nutrients, amino acids, essential fatty acids, and vitamins such as A, B, D, and E, this oil is great for your hair.

Almond Oil – Almond oil is a must have for your hair. It will provide nourishment for your hair and give it that lustrous look.

Rosemary oil – Less heavy than the other oils, rosemary oil is great if you do not want too much oil on your scalp when at school or work. Rosemary oil is great for preventing hair loss and for invigorating your hair follicles, which are important for the growth of your hair. It will also help in averting gray hair.

Natural oils such as these are not only affordable but effective in promoting long, radiant, and healthy hair. You can try any one of these or mix it up and apply a combination of these on a weekly basis. If done consistently, you will be amazed by the results. To boost their effectiveness, warm the oils up for about 20 to 30 seconds before applying to your hair and wrap your hair in a cloth afterwards.

Avoid Harsh Chemicals and Appliances that will damage your hair 

It is important that you take precaution on what you are applying to your hair. The less synthesized hair products, the better. Shampoos often contain harsh chemicals such as sodium laureate sulfate which damage your hair. Choose gentle shampoos which are hypoallergenic and do not have a strong smell (even if it smells good). You should also limit washing your hair to once or twice a week so as not to dry out your scalp and strip it of its oils.

Another important aspect to remember is not to apply too much heat to your hair. This means avoiding the overuse of your curling or flat irons on a daily basis, as it will result in dry, dull, and thin hair. There is no harm in using a good iron once in a while, but you may want to use a heat protectant before using it. Many people blow dry too often and this may contribute to hair damage. Air drying your hair with a towel can be the best method. Be careful when you do so because your hair is vulnerable to breakage after your hair is washed. However, if you do decide to use a hair dryer, make sure it is not directly pointing at your hair but is angled slightly further away.

To be continued
Be sure to check Part 3 for the final way to long, lustrous, and healthy hair inshaAllah

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below!

Sources:

WebMD: Health and Medical Information from www.webmd.com
Live Strong: Diet and Nutrition from www.livestrong.com/diet-and-nutrition/
Hair care routine timeline by Farah Dukhai from www.dukhai.com

May 26, 2013

Short Story: MY PANCAKE HUSBAND CHAPTER 5

By Alawiya Abdalla

Previous Chapter | Next Chapter

Bismillah


Jawahir

I made my way to Asha’s house, even though I was extremely tired and as soon as Asha opened the door, she whisked me inside in a hurry

“Come on, we've been waiting for AGES girl” She grabs my hand, dragging me to the living room where Khadija was sprawled on the sofa.

“JAWAHIR, I would totally stand up and hug you. But as you can see, I'm totally miserable and tired and in constant pain. I have two weeks to go Inshallah” Says a heavily pregnant Khadija
“I’ll come to you, don’t you worry big momma” I say it teasingly

Salem (Khadija’s 3 years old son) started calling her big momma with this pregnancy, and it kinda got stuck with her ever since
“You come sit next to me here” She points towards a spot next to her. I sit next to her and she has a “funny look” plastered all over her face

“So Jawahir. How’s your work at school going? I expect Ibrahim is taking good care of you and all?” She asks STILL having that smile and “look”
“School is fine Alhamdulilah, you know how I love kids right? Oh, by the way Asha, I'm working with your cousin Saeed” I announce it as soon as I remember, I wanna know what is going on there. “Saeed who?” Asks Asha, as she puts on the DVD. “His name is Saeed Yusuf” I reply casually, trying not to show my eagerness to know what is going on. Silence fills the air, as Asha and Khadija look at each other knowingly

“I met with his sister Mona today, and she told me that she was your cousin? I don’t understand. How come you guys never talk about them, how come I never see them round here?” I ask the questions that dominated my thoughts at school today. “Yusuf my uncle is a very bad man. He tormented my mum all throughout her life, and he was involved in the gossip that almost ruined Khadija’s reputation”, explains Asha.
“Subhanallah, how come I never heard about all of this? Asha we have been friends for as long as I recall!” I ask her feeling confused that my best friend would hide something this big from me
“Jawahir, you live through your books. Your head is always stuck in a book, and you never notice anything else around you. That’s what I love about you. You don’t care about gossips, and I can always forget about what people say about my mum and us with you” She explains kindly
“WHAT ABOUT ME??” Asks Khadija, feeling left out of this sisterly bond
“You USED to be like that. Now you’re all married and you turned into one of them Khadija”, replies Asha teasingly
“I have soo not turned into one of them. Soooo haven’t” She replies defensively before adding ”So Jawahir, how is things with Ibrahim at work?”
“You know, he’s annoying and all that. But that’s OK, I have found so many ways to avoid him” I answer proudly
“Why avoid him?? You mustn't do that! You must try your best to get to know him” She tells me, the urgency in her voice makes me look at Khadija in a funny way too

Subhanallah what is with this funny looks going around the house like a virus

“Why?” I ask her, with a raised brow
“Yes. Why Khadija?” Asha joins in curiously
“Nothing. I just think AS Asha’s friend, you should look after her brother that’s all. Maskeen, don’t you think so too Asha?” She looks at Asha with a sad face
“Nah man, I say give him more grief” Exclaims Asha, high fiving me at the same time
“ASHA, you are NOT helping!” Says Khadija through gritted teeth
“Helping with what? You are not trying to set Jawahir up with my brother are you?” Asks Asha, with a look of horror plastered all over her face

“No! I'm not trying to match make ANYONE. Jawahir is free to choose whoever she wants, right Jawahir?” Replies Khadija innocently

“Phew! Because I really wanna know about the wedding night. And you went and ruined it by marrying my brother Khadija, and whenever I ask my mum about it, she SHOOTS out of the room like no tomorrow mate” Explains Asha dramatically.
I stay quiet as I contemplate telling my best friends about Hamadi
“Jawahir?” Khadija looks at me with concern. “I have something to tell you girls” I finally feel brave enough to share the news. “What is it?” Asha joins in with Khadija, feeling concerned for me

“ I've been talking to someone online, and it might be the real thing Inshallah” I feel so relieved that SOMEONE, other than IBRAHIM knows about it.
“WHAT?” They both yell in unison
“But what about Ibrahim?” Asks Khadija in shock.
“Khadija!” Says Asha in agitation
“I mean, What about your WORK with him at school? Your WORK” Khadija tries to salvage her momentary outburst.
“I guess it’ll be fine Inshallah?” I reply, not having the heart to explain that things have not gone beyond Hi how are you today Hamadi, Fine, what about you
“Well, I think you should be careful that’s all. You know how these online creeps are, I'm telling you they LIE”, Asha warns me, a bit too much?

“And how would YOU know about online relationships Asha?” Khadija turns to her suspiciously, making me feel happy about the sudden change of subject
“Yeah Asha, how would YOU know?” I join in with the interrogation, to make sure it stays focused on Asha
“Let’s just say, I thought someone was a guy and it turned to be__How should I put it? I know__A very manly looking FEMALE!” She tells us, followed by a shuddering shake from her hand
“Did you meet him, I mean her. I mean him or is it her??” Khadija asks with a motherly tone
“NO! She just kept saying how her mum used to force her to play with Barbie, but she obviously would refer to herself as a “he” and how her mum used to force her to wear dresses and then I was like WHOAAA”, she continues the very embarrassing encounter
“Did you not clock it straight away?” I ask her, not believing that Asha would fall for such thing

“Look I went on Shaadi.com hoping to find myself Sharukh Khan, and I ended up with Mrs Sharukh Khan, and that’s about it really. So you better make sure that the person you are talking to IS in fact a guy! Know what I mean mate”, replies Asha, taking position as the DVD starts rolling.

“I KNOW he’ s a guy!” I take position next to her, waiting for the DVD to start rolling so we can move on from the subject
It starts and we try to follow what the lady is doing, and to be honest with you I expected something a bit more difficult. 
“This is like for babies dude” I say it, while trying to maneuver a tricky move.
“Have patience it gets better” Asha says it, concentrating on the one leg forward and one leg backwards thing (You have to be there to know)
“I wanna join in too!” Announces Khadija.
“WHOA BIG MOMMA! I don’t think so! You’re so near to having a baby” Argues Asha, which is fair to be honest as Khadija IS in her 9th month
“What’s the worse that could happen? I have my baby here? I don’t think so! Make space for me” She pushes us apart, and she settles in the middle (Oh dear) We settle in the routine, and as Asha said it got better and more difficult and now I am sweating too much

I think I lost me a couple of pounds already I can totally feel it.
“Look this is really fun, but I best start getting home Inshallah” I leave the session reluctantly
“Oh man, stay a little bit longer” Pleads Asha
“I really must” I start gathering my stuff to make my way to the front door.
I kiss them both on the cheeks, but Khadija is so engrossed in the whole thing she gives me a side peck

I make my way to the door, I open the door knob and___
The whole street looks white, as snow starts pouring furiously from the skies
I shut the door, and I go back to the living room. 
“Looks like I’ll be staying here for a while” I tell Asha and Khadija.
“What happened?” Asks Asha.

I do not say anything, I go over and open the curtains instead.
“Subhanallah!” Exclaims Asha
“I know!” I gravely agree “I guess no buses will run now!”
“Don’t worry Ahmed or Ibrahim will give a lift when they get here Inshallah”, Asha reassures me.
Great, Just great

We turn around to see why Khadija is gone quiet all of a sudden
We see her holding her swollen tummy in agony
“Khadija!! Are you OK?” We both rush over, and take her hand to help her sit on the sofa.

She puffs and puffs and puffs, until she stops all of a sudden. We wait for an explanation, but she just throws her head backwards to rest
“Khadija are you?” I get too nervous to finish the sentence
“In labour? Yes I am” She responds with a big old smile

GREEEEAAAATTTTTTTTTT


Ibrahim

I absolutely hate these unnecessary meetings I could have gone home ages ago, and now it is snowing heavily!! I take my car, and I know for a fact that my normally 15 minutes drive will take 2 hours now
Traffic is going REALLY slowly, and to kill time I watch out of the window and I see people walking through a blizzard on foot and I feel very sorry for them
As I was watching the endless faces of people puffing their way through the blizzard, I spot Mohamed amongst them

I roll my window down, and yell his name. He spots me, and comes over quickly with shopping bags weighing heavily on both of his hands. “You should REALLY start learning how to drive Mohamed!” I tell him, as soon as he enters the car. You see Mohamed does not wanna learn how to drive, because he has excessive hand sweat problem
“I can’t Ibrahim, and you know that. How can I grip the steering wheel when I'm sweating? You don’t have the problem, so you won’t know” He explains it like he always does.
“Excuses” I tease him like I always do

Mohamed starts shuffling and checking the contents of the bag repeatedly, and it starts to drive me nuts
“Will you stop that already?” I say it irritably.
“Sorry bro, I just wanna make sure I got everything this time. I ALWAYS forget something, and I can’t go back and forth anymore” He explains what every expectant fathers all around the world go through, when their wives go in labour.
“How far gone is she now?”,  I ask.
“She’s 9 months Alhamdulilah. Almost there Inshallah” He says it joyfully

Everytime Mohamed talks about his kids, I feel an ache in my heart that never fully left me since my divorce
“Where are your kids staying at?” I ask him, so he will not notice my sudden slumber tone.
“They’re staying with Dada Fawziyah and Khadija’s sisters are helping her” He answers totally oblivious to my sadness, Alhamdulilah. Mohamed’s mobile phone rings suddenly. He picks it up, and his face falls immediately

“Is everything alright?” I ask, worried after noticing his shocked face
“Khadija is in labour, Asha and Jawahir are with her. They called the ambulance, but it’s stuck in traffic due to the blizzard!” Replies Mohamed in a daze

“Inshallah Khair, don’t worry we will make it Inshallah” I try to reassure him, even though I AM worried
“You don’t understand. I've missed all my other children’s birth, I really thought this time I was gonna make it” He looks at me with sad eyes, before suddenly changing into an autopilot mood and saying ” I have GOT to be there this time” “I say if we walk it, it would take us less time than driving. Let me park my car somewhere and then I’ll come and get it in the morning Inshallah”, I come up with the only solution, even though it means walking in the blizzard

“That’s a GREAT idea! Let’s go” He jumps out of the car and into the blizzard, with an infectious excitement
We slowly make our way through the snow, and I cannot feel my fingers already
This is gonna be a looooong walk


Jawahir

One hour into labour

“ASHAAAAA WHERE IS YOUR HAND, I'M FEELING A CONTRACTIOOONNNN. JAWAHIR READ, READD”, Khadija yells through the pain_____
Again
It feels like all the sounds I have been developing since I was a baby have disappeared, and all my ears can hear is Khadija’s screams
“You know my Arabic isn't that great so my reading won’t be that fast”, I try to rationally explain WHY I cannot read Surat Maryam that fast
“Breathe, just breaathe that’s what the nurse told me on the emergency line” I motion some breathing techniques with my hands
“Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch” says Asha through gritted teeth
“It’s over now” Announces Khadija happily, like she did every time her contractions stops

“IT’S BACKKKKKK, ASHA YOUR HAAANNNNDDD. JAWAHIR READD” She suddenly yells again, like she does every time her contractions come back

“TAKE JAWAHIR’S HAND, IT’S REALLY COMFY!” Asha looks at me, with a look that says OFFER YOUR HAND OR ELSE
“I WANT YOUR HAND!!” Khadija grabs her hand, before she makes her escape.
“So this is like a CONSTANT pain??”, I suddenly ask frightfully.
“YYYEEESSSS IT ISSSSS” She answers through her pain :pinch

“Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch” Complains Asha, as Khadija continues raining all kinds of torture on her hand
“It’s over now” Announces Khadija happily
“IT’S BAAACCCKKKKKKKK, ASHA YOURRR HANDDDD” Poor poor Asha
“OH!” Khadija suddenly stops yelling
“Is it over? Is the baby out? where is it? WHAT IS THATTTT?” I yell as I notice a gush of water streaming down from Khadija
“My water just broke!! That means the baby is coming soon, an hour maximum, Inshallah” She tells us the good news

AS IF

“Mashallah this baby wants to come out fast, normally it takes me___” She does not finish her sentence as another contraction arrives.

“Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch”

“I need to call 999 again!! I'm NOT delivering a baby!! I am NOT!” I grab the house phone and call the emergency service. “You’re gonna HAVE TO catch the baby as I push, You HAVE TO Jawahir”, Khadija tells me through her pain.

“Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch”

At that point we hear the sound of the door knob turning, and I swear my heart LEAPS with joy
Ahmed appears, and I immediately shield Khadija to spare her the embarrassment
He does not say anything, but his eyes go all wide waiting for us to explain what is going on. “Ermm, Khadija is kind of in labour and the ambulance is taking ages to arrive so” I try my bestest to explain the situation. Subhanallah, something about Ahmed that makes everyone go all “I'm a 6 year old child and I'm very frightened of your aura uncle”

“Did you inform Mohamed?” He asks calmly.
“Yes. yes we did uncle, I MEAN Ahmed!!!” You see what I mean

“Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch OOOUUUCCHHHH”, Asha screams for the first time! Oh dear.
“Ahmed. Would you mind going into your room? I need to push the baby if you don’t mind” , asks Khadija politely
“Alright, May Allah be with you” He enters his room, and shuts the door behind him. I look back at Khadija, and I suddenly see a different pain___
Real pain etched all over her face
I call 999 again, and they say that the ambulance is pretty near. They instruct me to get blankets and be ready to catch the baby, as they wait on the line to support us
I call Mohamed, and no one answers
I quickly grab some towels, and come back to Khadija. Suddenly the door opens, and Mohamed and Ibrahim arrive covered in snow
Ibrahim goes in the room, where Ahmed was sitting and we hear Ahmed’s voice reciting Surat Maryam from across the room, and the world just stops.

''Kaf, Ha, Ya, ‘Ayn, Sad'' 19:1

Mohamed kneels down and takes over from Asha, much to her delight and I am still the one in charge to catch the baby.

''[This is] a mention of the mercy of your Lord to His servant Zechariah'' 19:2

But it is not scary anymore, listening to the Quran took the fear out of my heart

''When he called to his Lord a private supplication'' 19:3
And all is left was to welcome Mohamed and Khadija’s baby number 4, Inshallah

''He said, “My Lord, indeed my bones have weakened, and my head has filled with white, and never have I been in my supplication to You, my Lord, unhappy'' 19:4


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I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below! :)