Many of the posts I have shared so far are diet and beauty related. But spending time in the Mediterranean, I observed the lifestyles of the locals and compared them to the lifestyle I lead in the US. In addition to sharing recipes and beauty tips, I am a staunch believer that a healthy mind and psyche are critical to overall health. To that end, I will pepper some advice or sayings I heard / observed while overseas.
Il Nefes il Taweel is Arabic for “the long breath.” It’s a direct translation, and I think a rather good one. This is a saying that my Egyptian father taught me. It means that life is long. To succeed, one must have patience. In the midst of uncertainty or fear, one must always breathe. How many times have I hyperventilated before giving a speech? Or cursed and sped through a traffic light in the attempt to make it on time to class or a meeting? Or when I was curled up in a fetal position crying, wondering what happened to my career after having children and bowing out of corporate America?
Like many Americans, I was always in a rush to get somewhere, to do something, to accomplish. I used to race. When I was a child, I was a phenomenal sprinter. Then I grew boobs at age 10, and my running career went downhill. I moved on to my next sport: swimming, then cheerleading, then tennis. For me, there was always “and then.” I was always ready for the next challenge, the next experience. The next trophy or ribbon or certificate. I was the same with college, grad school, “and then” business. Yes, I’m competitive and exhausted.
If I am honest, moving to Cyprus felt limiting in many ways. Career-wise, the island is exponentially smaller than the American economy. My MBA from Goizueta Business School gave me zero leverage with most jobs. While it is beautiful and relaxing, it can be limiting in personal and professional growth opportunities. I had to learn to not think about growing and to concentrate on being. It was a radical thought for me. There was no next. Not right then. Not at that moment. I was a mom with two young kids who needed me for everything. So, I had to just “be.” At that time of my life, I had to just be and breathe. All of the nighttime wake up calls, the allergy-induced itching, the never-ending laundry. It was all going to pass. Just give it time. Whatever the problem, it was only a matter of time.
The problem, I believe, stems from the fact that we are told as Americans that we are in control of our own destiny. Which is awesome, and true to much extent. However, we are not 100% in control, 100% of the time. When my garage door doesn’t close because it’s freezing and the motor won’t work, then I will be late to my morning meeting and my kids will be late to school. And it will be okay. When my husband’s clients don’t pay their bills and we are left wondering how to pay the children’s tuition that month, we are not in control. And it will be okay.
That’s what “il nefes il taweel” means for me. That I need to breathe and remember that everything will be just fine. That I am not 100% in control at all times, and I don’t need to be. The world won’t fall apart. My family won’t fall apart. Hell, my own children won’t fall apart, now that they are 10 and nearly 9, and extremely independent. Just like their momma.
So dear friends: just remember to take that Long Breath and be. . .
Discover your Inner Aphrodite. . .
Great post! Everything always works out in the end. I see your children are very close in age as are mine. My two daughters are 15 mo. apart.
Our children are 18 months apart. It was definitely difficult when they were young; but they are the best of friends now.
Thank you for reading and responding, Barbara!
Yes, it was a bit difficult when they were young. I need to make time and read some more, thank you, for your blog!