All This Madness!

My heart is sad today. So many innocent people dead this week in Brussels. What is happening to us, to the world? And why? All those killings, all those innocent lives lost, all those crimes committed against humanity by humans. It’s so bad, it’s like “feeling sick in the stomach” bad.

Why all this madness? Why now? I often ask myself these questions, although I don’t know the answers. I don’t think anyone knows.
We human beings are defined by our past. Our identity as humans and as nations lies in our past. I ask myself, is it because over the centuries the mass murders and the genocides that were committed against people and against nations went unpunished? Is that why we are in this mess today? Is it because the oppressors got away with their crimes that these atrocities are still continuing against innocent civilians?

Eckhart Tolle writes:

“How is it possible that humans killed in excess of one hundred million fellow humans in the twentieth century alone? Humans inflicting pain of such magnitude on one another is beyond anything you can imagine. And that’s not taking into account the mental, emotional and physical violence, the torture, the pain, and cruelty they continue to inflict on each other as well as on other sentient beings on a daily basis.

Do they act in this way because they are in touch with their natural state, the joy of life within? Of course not. Only people who are in a deeply negative state, who feel very bad indeed, would create such a reality as a reflection of how they feel. Now they are engaged in destroying nature and the planet that sustains them. Unbelievable but true. Humans are a dangerously insane and very sick species. That’s not a judgment. It’s a fact.” 

I remember decades ago when cars often exploded in busy and crowded residential areas of Beirut. I used to walk in the middle of the street, avoiding the parked cars on the sides. They represented a big threat to me, as I thought that any of them could be loaded with bombs that would detonate at any minute. I used to be so scared sometimes.

When I think back I realize how foolish I was to think that I could be safer walking in the middle of the road, avoiding the pavements. How could I think I could be safer from such explosions? But man is hopeful. We always live and dream of a future that will make us happier or richer or safer. When truths are twisted to suit the needs and demands of certain people or nations, annihilations take on a different meaning and the world becomes an uglier place. 

Elie Wiesel writes:

“What did he want to learn here? That human beings are frail? That their truths change? That there is one truth for the judges, another for the judged? That doubt is as necessary to faith as air is to fire? That there is only a fine line between innocence and guilt? Madness frightens me, but not as much as those who push them into madness.” 

What’s going on in different parts of the world right now is pure madness. I pray for all those innocent lives lost in Brussels and elsewhere in the world. I join my voice to Elie Wiesel’s and say, we fear madness but not as much as those who push them into it.



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When Did You Last Hear?

When did you last hear someone say to you, “I believe in you”?

It’s a cold morning in Montreal. Sitting at my desk, I look at the snow outside. Soon I should start writing, but I don’t. Instead I keep thinking and wondering. I am at a very low point in my career now, my self esteem is at an all time low. And I keep questioning, how did I get to this point? Why didn’t I get back to teaching while it wasn’t too late? Why did I let myself into this? 

I look back and I see his picture in its white frame on my desk. I look at his face. I long to hear his voice. I long to hear him say, “You can do this, I believe you will do this, I believe in you.”

“I believe in you.” 

It’s been a long time since I last heard those words from him. Three years, three months and thirteen days, to be exact, since the day he left us and this world. 

Rebecca Maddox writes:

“To succeed beyond our widest imagination, I am convinced that each one of us must find someone who will be our “I believe in you” person. This is a must. I don’t care if you’re a business owner, an executive, an employee, a mom, a student, or a person in transition from one role to another: if you do nothing else in preparing for whatever change lies ahead, find this person, no matter what it takes or how long it takes. It’s that important.”

I realize now how important it was for me to hear him say “I believe in you.” He was always there to listen to me blabber about my dreams, about everything and everyone, to help me out in dealing with my problems. I trusted him unreservedly and completely. When he spoke it was always from his heart and his head. He was my number one critic and my number one fan when it came to my writing.

He was my “I believe in you” person, or as Julia Cameron later referred to it, my “Believing Mirror.” To use her words: 

“A believing mirror is a carefully chosen individual who helps a project’s growth by believing in it in embryonic stages. Another way to think of a believing mirror is the old expression “secret sharer.” Most of us need to talk to someone, sometime, about our creative aspirations. The right person to talk to is a believing mirror.” 

I not only trusted him with my dreams but also with my life. I miss my talks with him. I miss hearing his voice. I miss him terribly. Without him in my life I am lost sometimes. And at those times I feel utterly lonely. 

When did you last hear someone say to you, “I believe in you”?



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Ten Steps To Becoming A Writer

I’ve noticed lately that most of the articles or blogs being published online or in print are in the form of lists. Like ‘Five Things to Do to Lose Weight’ or ‘Eight Steps to Success’ and so on.

I remember for me it was the late Stephen Covey who first started this trend, with his ‘7 Habits of Highly Successful People’.

Here’s my first list edited from my July 2012 post.

Step 1: Start with an Idea.

Step 2: Draw out a Plan- theme, characters, plot.

Step 3: Read and Research (if necessary).

Step 4: Start Writing (actual writing process).

Step 5: Keep on Writing until you Finish the first draft.

Step 6: Put it Aside for a While and do Something Else.

Step 7: Get Back to your Draft and Start Cutting and Editing.

Step 8: Query Agents and Publishers.

Step 9: Don’t wait, Start a New Project.

Step 10: Read! Read! Read!


And remember to have fun!


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Dream A Little! Imagine!

“As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.” Toni Morrison

Spiritual gurus and coaches of positive thinking say that before you do anything important in your life, you have to remember to dream. You have to see yourself doing what you want to do. You have to see yourself as the person you want to become. You have to imagine and see yourself realizing your dream. To achieve success you have to dream. You have to imagine.

Dream a little! Imagine! 

Early in the 1990s I read the book ‘Writing’ by Kenneth Atchity. It was part of the writing program I had enrolled in at the time. In it the author introduced the ‘Thought Control Process.’ He explained that thinking about negative things or about depressing things was a waste of time. He suggested an effective way to get rid of those thoughts. Every time you found yourself driving along and thinking dark thoughts, you train yourself to switch to positive thoughts, like thinking about something you love to do most. 

To switch away from my dreadful and gloomy thoughts and depressing feelings, I will think about a writing project. And l will try and write entire scenes or even stories in my head. I will be happy doing so. Whether I will remember some or all of it when I am awake the next morning is a different story. But one thing I know for sure is that my negative thoughts will not bother me because I will be happy imagining.


When we have something important to take care of, don’t we make it our priority? We concentrate on our task ahead and try to stay focused and take control of our thoughts and situation. Most of the time we spend nights tossing and turning and wondering about how the task can end, especially if it’s something hard, like an interview or a presentation or a talk. I personally rehearse scenes or think over multiple scenarios in my head if I have something scheduled the next day, even if it is as simple as having coffee with a friend.

If this is the process that all these professional speakers and coaches talk about then I am all for it and happy to do it. But sometimes I can’t help but feel that ‘I am in the woods’ as the saying goes. Especially when I am trying to make a decision. Because here is the thing.

One thing I think I am good at is collecting information, reading and taking notes, and preparing the ground for what I want to do, or the project I want to work on. But dreaming about it and actually doing it are two different things. 

When I have done my research and I think I am ready to start work on my project I feel dubious. My feelings are like a seesaw and one day I am happy and the next I am wishing for something else. Is this fear then? Is my fear blocking my chance of success?

Eleanor Roosevelt said:

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

I like to take risks but at the same time I am afraid to lose the sense of security that I have. Am I afraid that if I pull it off then my life will change? 

I have learned from experience that if I allow myself to try things I think I cannot do, or rather I cannot do perfectly well, and do them, even if I have to sweat for it, the experience helps me hone my skills and grow in spirit. At the end of the day I am a happier person even if I complain and nag and fuss about it.

Paul Auster wrote:

“The world is so unpredictable. Things happen suddenly, unexpectedly. We want to feel we are in control for our existence. In some ways we are, in some ways we’re not. We are ruled by the forces of chance and coincidence.”


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Wouldn’t It Be Nice?

On Sunday night, I watched the movie “Limitless” starring Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro,based on the novel The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn. 

The film is about a writer, Eddie Morra (played by Bradley Cooper), who is blocked and cannot write and is facing a deadline. His apartment is a mess and so is his life. His girlfriend breaks up with him and he is stressed. Then he runs into his ex-brother-in-law who gives him a drug, called NZT-48.

Thinking that no harm can come from taking only one pill, Eddie takes it and within seconds his life changes. He cleans his apartment and sits and writes his book, which he finishes in four days. All of a sudden he is filled with this energy and power to learn things, new things, like how to play the piano, or how to speak in different languages, and he does all that in a significantly short time. He even remembers incidents from his past that he didn’t before. He sees people and images in brighter colors. Soon he becomes successful and gets back with his girlfriend. Then of course he finds himself in dangerous situations and he always manages to get out. 

Later in the film when his girlfriend is in trouble and being chased by a killer with a knife in hand, Eddie tells her just to take a pill and she will know what to do and how to get out of that situation. 

It was one of those films that left me with a good feeling. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was some kind of medication we could take to make us smarter? To make us write those good books we always dream of writing, to help us learn new languages, to help us know better and do the right thing, or have the right answers. Or to know what to do when caught in a life threatening situation and facing danger…


Sometimes when I am so overwhelmed by life, so swamped by responsibilities and the expectations of others, I become so distraught and panic-stricken, so overwrought and exhausted. And I start wishing for some external power or some magic to help me face my fears and get me out of the dire situation I find myself in. I go to bed after having yet another bad day, hoping and wishing that tomorrow might be different. Hoping for a miracle, for the break that may never come. 

At times like that, when I feel anguished and sort of lost and sleep won’t come, I make a wish list in my mind. I make a list of all the things I want to do and all the things I want to be. It helps me get connected with myself. It helps me to remember who I am and where I want to be. It helps me to stay focused. It helps me to calm down and to not panic. 

“It’s so easy to rush ahead into fear and panic. It is easy to miss the beauty that awaits us in the here and now. So much of life is like taking a photograph. We must pause to catch the moment and savor our delight.” Julia Cameron 


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It’s Been A Long Time

It’s a cold wintry morning here in Montreal. The temperatures have dropped to double digits below zero. Most of the time I am okay with it but sometimes it gets to me and I find it hard to continue without feeling blue. I anxiously wait for spring to come, hopefully it will soon.

Today I feel shaky. It is a day where I feel even nature is conspiring against me. Montreal is feeling overwhelming and I am longing to be in Dubai with my late husband. I am longing for some sunshine and sandy beaches, and I am missing our life together. I am missing him terribly.

To be honest I don’t really know why I feel the way I do sometimes. I try to find beauty around me. God knows I try, but on some days like today I look and look but fail to notice anything.

I ask myself: “What is it that I am looking for? What do I truly want?” And I find the answer in my writing and the progress I am making, or rather, not making.

I have been doing this for years now. My book was published in 2004. And in 2009 when I quit my teaching job I told the principal at the time that I wanted to focus on my writing (the real reason of course being to spend time with my then ailing husband). She asked: “But how will you make a living? Is your book selling?”

No! My book did not sell then and it is not selling now. Despite the fact that whoever reads it loves it and is moved by the story and the characters, and that it “makes them cry.” 
Which is enough to make me happy.

In 2011 when I started my blog I wasn’t sure what I was doing at the time. But gradually I found my footing and started having followers. When a year later I was freshly pressed that was validation enough for me to go on doing what I have always wanted and loved to do. Write!

It’s been a long time since that day in August 2012. Nothing much has happened after that. I have had over a hundred Facebook shares for one of my posts this last month. A blessing and an increase from the fifty something shares I had before. I am grateful for my readers and followers.

I knew what I was getting myself into and I wasn’t expecting much. I know that chances are I will not make money from my writing, and in the same way no publisher will want to publish my second book or third because they won’t comply with the market demand. 

At the moment I am shaky. My enthusiasm feels shattered. And instead of dreaming the impossible and saying “wouldn’t it be lovely if” I keep repeating to myself “that would never happen.” 

What possible good comes out of this? I ask myself. What’s next? Why do I do it then?

Why do I keep writing? Because it brings me relief from the turbulence of my own thoughts, calms my soul and soothes away my anxieties, and saves me from sinking into depression. 

And if I can reach that one person, if my articles or books can resonate with that one reader, then I am happy again.


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Someday When I Have The Time

Rereading one of my books on writing and time management the other day, I came across the following checklist:

– You never seem to find the time to start writing that project you’ve been dreaming about.
– You hear yourself saying, “I don’t know where the time goes.”
– You spend most of your time responding to external pressures instead of to your inner vision.
– Your whole life seems to have been “one big interruption.”
– You’ve been planning to “get started” all your life.
– You keep attending creative writing classes and do no writing on your own. 

And the list goes on. I checked true on all the points listed above, even the last one. Though I don’t attend creative classes anymore, I do find myself rereading almost all of my books on writing over and over again instead of actually writing. 

Kenneth Atchity writes:

“Talent and discipline combined together with time can make your dreams come true.” 

Talent: the abilities, power, and gifts a person is born with; a special often creative or artistic aptitude.

Discipline: control guided by obedience or training, orderly conduct.

Time: the measured or measurable period during which an action, process, or condition exists or continues: duration.
(Britannica Webster Dictionary) 

Sometimes when I hear myself say, “Someday when I have the time, I will finish the project I started decades ago,” I quickly realize my mistake and think, “No one will give me the time. If I want something so badly I will have to make the time for it.” 

It’s getting worse, this time thing. I can’t seem to be able to manage my time like I used to. I lack control. I lack discipline. What I do now on most days is procrastinate and keep postponing my projects, only to realize that life itself has a deadline, the most arbitrary deadline of all. 


John Grisham wrote:

“I had no time to write – zero time. But I figured I could make time if I could carve out little segments. I knew it would be a slow process, but I didn’t care because I was in no hurry. I learned two very valuable lessons in doing that. One, you can’t get in a hurry. Two, write every day if you want to see your novel completed. My goal was to write a page a day. Some days I could only find thirty minutes, some days two hours. Sometimes I would write five or six pages, sometimes just one. But writing every single day is of utmost importance. Especially if like most beginning writers, you have another full time job.”

Have a great week!

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