2020 – The year of taking chances

20-20!! sounds very futuristic!! People thought that by 2020 there will be flying cars, and robots ruling over us, dystopias, etc. but here we are, just another year on this lonely rock floating through space!!

As for me, 2020 comes with new challenges to take on, opportunities to grab, and chances to take!!

At the beginning of every year I’m full of determination, energy to take on the new year, and take on the world with it! But this year is down, I was dragging my heels to write this post, and the last one.

I’m approaching 2020 with caution, and sense of reverence. So many things are setting off!

I’m exploring my sense of calling and vocation, and this on its own is quite intimidating!! When Moses was called by God to lead his people out of Egypt, and into the promise land, he actually never made it!! A calling and a vocation can be very expensive in terms of time, energy, and sacrifices, and the only thing guaranteed is that the reward won’t be in this lifetime!!

For those who don’t know, in Jan 2019, the Egyptian authorities refused to renew my expired passport, nor issue me with a new passport on the grounds of my gender transition, which effectively makes me stateless, and complicates all the immigration paperwork I ever need to do. Which is bringing me a massive sense of anxiety.

Many things need to be done within a very short period of time; I’m about to move house again with in 2 months, which requires a massive downsizing, and lots of storage space, things to be sold off or given away, including but not limited to my beautiful red car (Janet), dining table, computer desk, double bed, TV table, giving away the cat that accompanied me for the past 18 months, and hopefully getting a new job fully outside my comfort zone (which requires a visa transfer), ILR to apply for in June (Indefinite Leave to Remain – Permanent Residence) which requires 2 exams to be taken (English Language, and English History!), once the ILR is successful, I need to get me a travel document so that I can travel around again outside the UK either for work or pleasure, and potentially being put forward for a selection panel for ordained ministry!!

And in addition to this, I’m taking a very bold move to hopefully get my kids to contact me directly away from having a proxy of my 1st ex. But it’s literally taking my chances, which will bring a radical change, either to the better, far better, or far worse, no middle ground!!

2020 is kicking off with lots of things changing at once, love life, career, faith, community-centric life, immigration status. And all these facets are involving taking chances, taking risks, and willingness to make the best of everything.

I’m look at it all as investments for the future, laying down the foundations of a stable life. And like any investment, it will either boom and bloom, or fall apart in pieces.

2020, is the year of taking chances, is the year of rapid changes, and the year of taking high stake chances.

But I’m sure that God will be there with me, to help me, and guide me. I’m relying on God to be my vision, my true might, my light, and my treasure.

In 2020, I want to emerge from it saying “It has been a splendid year”.

In 2020, I want to be able to hear my kids’ voices for the 1st time again in 4 years.

In 2020, I want to relaunch and re-invent and re-ignite my career.

In 2020, I want to commit wholeheartedly to those who love me and I love them back.

Celine Dion’s Taking Chances sums it all for me quite nicely!!

2020, you’re coming in hot, fast, and rapid. You come with high stakes, and new challenges, chances, and opportunities, and I aim to live every day to the fullest equipped with my trust in God, and his faithfulness. I’ll aim to strengthen those strong connections built in 2019, and to reconnect to those who I lost.

My God, be with me.

Love,

Nour

โค

Recap of, and Reflections on, 2019

Oh dear, oh dear!! Some year that was! It was a true rollercoaster like never before!

The highs were really high, the lows were devastating.

Let’s start in chronological order, shall we?

The cat that decided to move in at mine last year, turned out to have been abandoned by a the previous owners, and has been living as the neighbourhood cat for the past 5 years! so I gave her a home, and her name is actually Goldy ๐Ÿ™‚ she has been a true companion throughout the year.

Around January time, I received an invite to speak in the House of Commons as part of International Women’s Day activities. What an honour!

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Late March, Vodafone had the TDOV event, where I also spoke and got to be part of a panel.

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During that day, one of the attendees came out for the 1st time, and declared their intention to transition. Now that was a very emotional moment for everyone!

Shortly after, I was also invited to be a keynote speaker at Stonewall’s Workplace Conference, where it had around 1000 delegates! What a privilege!

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The talk seem to have been very well received by many. I managed to connect with amazing individuals, where I was invited to be part of a panel about Women in Tech. Where I was accompanied by 4 brilliant women, and for an hour we spoke about women in tech and how we wish to see that everyone is an ally to everyone else.

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But it’s not only Diversity and Inclusion talks, I was also a guest speaker in ECC (Enterprise Computing Conference), where I invited a colleague from work to share the stage with me to speak on how do cloud in Vodafone – More on that friend later.

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Though this picture gives me a sense of pride of what I was able to achieve in a short period of time, it also reminds me of a very heated conversation with my 1st ex (the conversation commenced after our talk), during which I begged her to talk even for 5 mins to the girls. Nonetheless she’s adamant to never let them ever get in touch with me at all!

The letters from the kids are (to put it mildly) heart-wrenching. The words of longing, missing, love, and even begging to speak to me, are both heart warming, and aching.

The last letter I received wasn’t actually a letter, it was a notebook full of photos, commentaries on the photos, and letters written over weeks. Bless her.

During June, I lost my boss; one of the leaders I always admired, and how has been a tremendous support for me during my transition. I won’t be exaggerating when I say without his support my transition would have been impossible!! Kudos to Gerard!

Losing him to redundancies, has been one of the saddest news I received in 2019. In my entire career I only ran to the toilet to cry twice!! Once in 2010, and June 2019.

As life moves on, and never awaits anyone, it happened that we (me and a group of the LGBT+ network) were invited to the British LGBT Awards as guests. However, we were fully taken by surprise to hear that we won the top inclusive employer of the year!!! it took us few minutes to actually realise that we actually won!!

https://www.britishlgbtawards.com/winners-2019/ I had to improvise a reception speech!! thought I can’t find it online, nonetheless, here’s a quick photo!

Screenshot 2019-12-30 at 11.58.21

So, remember that colleague I shared the stage with? We decided to go hiking together in Yorkshire Dales! We had a game of monopoly which lasted over 3 evenings!!Screenshot 2019-12-30 at 12.00.40.png

Anyway, during the hike we conquered the Pen-y-ghent summit, 700 meters, baby!!! at the end of it, the pups were completely spent!! Can’t blame them!!

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Shortly after the hike, my colleague (now close friend) have left Vodafone!

After that went the consecration of the Bishop of Reading at St. Paul’s Cathedral! it was majestic to witness!

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Anyway, me and my friend did a panel during the CIO Transformation Live about Diversity & Inclusion, and why it matters in the ever changing world of technology!

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I was the one organising the panel, which seem to have been very well received!

These are some of the moments I’m really happy with, and they bring a smile to my face whenever I remember them.

 

By late October 2019, I had to step down from the LGBT+ Network steering committee for reasons I’d like to keep for myself for the moment.

There’re many many more things to talk about that happened during 2019 but I’ll refrain from mentioning them here at the moment for personal reasons.

As I sent out my last message to the LGBT+ Network steering committee, I realised that I’m surrounded by people who truly love and care for me.

As of Feb/March 2020 I plan to move in to a house which has two dogs (the pups in the photos above) I tried to introduce them to Goldy, but they don’t seem to have been able to get along. Determined to give Goldy a forever home, and not to live as a “neighbourhood” stray cat again, a dear friend of mine will take her in.

Though so many great things happened in 2019, and despite the bad things that happened, I find myself facing 2020 with a long list of uncertainties, and challenges I’m yet to face.ย Leaving behind things that I loved and cherished, for the hope and pursuit of greater opportunities and rewards, equipped with one of the most powerful things in the world; Love.

The love of my kids, and their love for me. The love for people I call family, and they consider me part of their families too, as well as their love for me. And above the love of God and his unfailing faithfulness and love for me.

2019 has not only been a year of pursuit, but also of persistence and defiance!!

Now to reflect on the objectives I set at the beginning of 2019!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I wanted to say “We” more often instead of saying “I”! – I would give that 8/10
  • I wanted to start looking for a property to buy, Though I started the hunt for a house, found one, and applied for it, it was forced to be put on hold due to my visa situation!
  • I wanted to have a partner in crime – so that would be 10/10, we’re also appreciating the “me” times, and “me” spaces
  • Now I have people who I’m deeply connected with, spiritually, and intellectually

As I say goodbye to 2019, 2020 is knocking the door, and it will come in whether we’re ready or not. So I decided to be ready ๐Ÿ™‚

Love,

Nour

โค

2019 – Year of the Pursuit – Part 2

I was going to name it differently, but then last min when I was writing the title, I remembered that the pursuits in our lives don’t just end, they just go on and on and on, until the day we die.

So what am I pursuing this year ?

As I start to remember 2018, it was a good year, with so many things that happened, great things, good things, and also not so good things.

I had a breakup, a couple of attempts at relationships before I just kind of gave up, learned a lot of lessons, went on a road trip on my own, a new job, talks at conferences, a new house on my own (I wanted a me time in 2018!!! And I got loads of it)

I made such amazing memories in 2018, great achievements, and I’m grateful for all the ups and downs of 2018. But I did it all alone, which isn’t bad nor sad.

I’ve been reading about the stages of life, the first stage where we try to figure out who we are, what’s our purpose in life, and kind of place for ourselves where can call home, and by home I don’t mean place of dwelling, the word home for me is much more profound than just a place to sleep in at night.

The second stage is all about how can I give away my life more in a meaningful way, time is bound to pass by, and it’s not coming back, and the accident I had in 2018 made me pause and think, if I died that day, what legacy would I have left behind ? what kind of value did my life and actions added to the world ? what’s my contribution in life ? did I live by the values of my name (Nour means light in case you don’t know)?

So I want to be able to spend my prime years doing something meaningful, something that contributes positively to the lives of others, even something as simple as praying for them, helping them find their way, or just being there a good friend who’s able to listen, truly listen.

The third stage which we’ll have to go through, death. I’m still trying to wrap my head around stage two, hence I don’t have much to say about this third stage, but it’s there, it’s the great unknown, no one ever died and came back to tell the story !!!

The theme throughout the past few years revolved around finding home, and I think I’m here.

The next few years I believe will start revolving around how to live a more meaningful life.

And I bet the first step to living a meaningful life is to have more profound connections with people. Instead of the many ‘Me’s that I achieved in 2018, I was start saying ‘We’.

Not necessarilyย a romantic partner (though it would be lush), but a companion throughout life, maybe a group of like-minded people where can keep thinking together, doing things together that makes life better.

In 2018, I stated considering getting a mortgage, but with Brexit looming on the horizon, there’s a lot of uncertainty, which means I’ll have to put my plans for both MBA and mortgage for wee bit later, maybe mid 2019 for a mortgage ?

In 2018, I learned a lot about me, I had a lot of me time, which was exactly what I needed.

In 2018, I learned to enjoy the company of a good book, and it’s fascinating !! And this is something I’d like to capitalize on in 2019.

In 2019, I will be able to live by the meaning of my name, I will be able to start involving more in community services,ย I will be able to build these profound strong connections with like-minded people, and strengthen them. I don’t know yet how to do so, but by the end of 2019, I’m sure I’ll be able to say (We did) way more often than (I did) ๐Ÿ™‚

World, Mark my words ๐Ÿ™‚

Love,

Nour

Reflections on the year of pursuit

What a year !! 2018 has been super eventful, fruitful, and by all means remarkable.

It was the year of pursuit, pursuit of happiness, success, connections, spirtuality, sustainability, and love.

Where shall I start ?

Early 2018, I was being headhunted by a a tech giant, for a tech leadership position, I had to say no to them because I was still trying to focus on myself post-op and post transition, and being kind to myself, I didn’t want to overwhelm myself with the stresses of a new job, relocation, etc.

But that headhunting gave me a prespective which I always took forgranted, my true worth and value in the industry (more on that later), and I started talking to my boss that I want to pursue a more fulfilling career.

By March 2018, I started to seek romantic relationships, following breaking up with my partener (for reasons not related to my transtion), that didn’t work out well, BUT I learned a lot about myself, and what’s good for me what’s not.

By April, I was assigned the role of Trans* Advisor within Vodafone’s LGBT+ Friends network in the UK, which is amazing, and means that I can drive (ot at least influence) more long-sought changes in the business and the workplace regarding trans inclusion.

I went on to speak across different forums (national and international) about trans inclusion, driving cultural changes, and my personal story.

Check those out:

Pride Business Forum 2018 – Prague :ย https://www.pridebusinessforum.com/pride-business-forum-20181.html

Stonewall Workplace Conference 2018 – Manchester –ย https://www.stonewall.org.uk/events/stonewall-workplace-conference-manchester-2018

Business Forums International 2018 – London –ย https://bfi.co.uk/2nd-supporting-lgbt-in-the-workplace-summit–london-24518/

I also took part of a joint venture training by Vodafone and Google for LGBT+ leaders to drive a more inclusive workplace –ย https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/vodafone-joined-forces-google-my-personal-account-nour-shaker/

Also this pressrelease was a direct result of the work we worked internally by the network to improve customer care for our trans custoemrs:ย https://www.thegayuk.com/vodafone-is-doing-something-amazing-for-trans-customers/

I also went to few prides this year, London, Prague (I drove to there from home and back – crazy I know), Brighton, and Lincoln.

I also got the chance to meet the beautifully awesome Amy โค โค

Amy and I were feeling a bit sassy ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

I even went to comic con and cosplayed as Wenry (Fullmetal Alchemist) !!! can you believe it ?!! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

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But 2018 wasn’t all happy, fluffy and dandy, I had a huge financial setback when I was forced to move out at very short notice, and I didn’t have the financial means to support this move.

I was new at a new role (more on that later on) and it was very demanding at the beginning, and to top it all up, I had a major accident where my car was a total loss.

I really loved this car SOOO much, she was very dear to me, but she saved me well, and I walked out of that accident with nothing but a broken nail, and bump on the head !! No injuries whatsoever.

All these things happened within the course of 4 weeks, so it took me quite a while to be able to recover from that, and I’m going to still pay off the loan I took till August 2019.

This accident made me realize that I life too short to waste, and too fragile. And made me realize that I could have passed away with no one knowing anything at all. I learned from that accident few lessons that I cannot unlearn.

But it also helped me realize how much I was loved by few people, and for them I’m thankful, and eternally grateful.

So I moved out, and for the 1st time since forever (literally forever) I’m living on my own, in a place for my own, not shared with anyone.

I never lived alone before !!! and it taught me so much about myself !! And I’m starting to like it ๐Ÿ™‚

As soon as I moved in, a cat decided to make itself welcome at my place, I would say it adopted me ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

I called the J, I don’t know if it’s a he or a she, so I’m sticking to J ๐Ÿ™‚

J would walk in as soon as I open the door, mews at me for food, and them comes to sit on lap for a cuddle and a bit of petting, and then goes to his special corner near the hot water tank, and sleeps, and at night J would come and sleep next to me !!!

Just like that, I found myself owned by a cat ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

Anyhow, In terms of career progression, the headhunt made more aware of my strengthes and value in the business and the IT industry in general.

So after quite few heated conversations with my boss, and going few levels above him, I managed to move to another role, way more challenging, hands-on, and we’re literally doing things that has never been attempted on this planet before, which is so freakin’ AWESOME ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ We’re even planning to apply for our own patents !!!! SWEEEEEET !!!

I finally managed to start some letters exchanges with my daughters, and I have to say, it’s heart-wrenching, no matter how much, and how hard you try to express your feeling through words, it’s never enough. There will always be the longing, the missing, the fact that I’m not able to see, hear, and touch my girls and hold them in my arms.

The most painful point was when I went shopping for them, and realized how much taller the must have grown ๐Ÿ˜ฆ And I wasn’t there to see it, and I can’t even talk to them on the phone.

But on the bright side, they’re doing great !!!

The eldest won 3rd place in 500m free-style swimming compitition !!! WOW, I KNOW !!!

The younger, oh dear oh dear, what a diva !!! She’s all into dancing, singing, and drawing !!!

I long and pray for the day I can see them and look them in the eye and tell them how much I love them.

Speaking of prayers, One of the things that I wanted to pursue for the last couple of years is spirtuality, and my relation to God.

And if I didn’t achieve anything this year, this is by far the most important thing I believe I ever achieved this year.

I believe I finally found my faith, and that helped my reconsile my past, my faith, my identity, my struggles, and also my future.

And a fortnight ago I had sort of ravalation, a moment of pure peace and trenquility, after which I was able to find forgiveness, forgiveness for everyone who ever hurt me in the past.

All those who thought wrong or less of me, those who disrespected me, those who caused me harm, those who looked at me with utter desdain, those who took away from me the right to see and talk to my kids, those who threatened to kill me, those who spat on me, those who promsied, vowed, and tried to turn my life into living hell.

I forgive them all, unconditionally.

I found in myself a capacity to love and to forgive beyond my imagination. I say it’s a true blessing.

2018 has been a true blessing, in so many ways despite the pain (emotional, physical, and financial), it was a smashing success in so many aspects, I can write pages upon pages on what happened throughout 2018, but those were the main highlights, the highlights that will shape how 2019 will look like.

If I can ever recap the past 5 years:

Joining Vodafone in 2013 gave me hope in my own being, capacity, and a launchpad to accept myself.

Embarcing myself back in 2014 allowed me to be whoever I am.

Transitioning (2015-2017) gave my identity a face and a sound.

Moving to the UK (2015) gave me hope, acceptance, safety, and a chance to live.

And in 2018, my faith crowned it all by reconciling everything with peace, love, and forgiveness.

I’m so excited about how 2019 will be ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m truly blessed.

Love,

Nour

Insecurities and Authenticity

Over the past 3 months I learned much more than I learned over 3 years !!

I learned the difference between ‘Work For’, ‘Work With’, ‘Be For’, and ‘Be With’

I learned that to be an effective and authentic leader, I need to be self-aware and acknowledge my fallibility, and be with people who can support me when I fail. And listen to them

I learned a lot about myself

I learned that anyone can be judgmental, controlling, listening-not-really-listening apathetic person, awaiting for praise, and distant (opposite to being present). It’s our personal insecurities that are being projected onto other people when we come to a conclusion.

I learned that conclusion is what we call the state when we’re tired of listening and thinking.

Sometimes listening diagnostically (with the purpose to find a solution) is important, but equally it can be damaging if the situation doesn’t call for it.

I learned that being authentic doesn’t mean being out all the time, they’re not synonyms !!!

Authenticity is all about self-awareness, balanced processing, relational transparency, and ethics and morals.

Think of it as the tree of authenticity ,where the seeds of self-awareness are planted in the earth of ethics and morals, watered by the water of balanced processing, protected by relational transparency.

And what are the fruits of that tree ?? Empathy, having kind eyes, rejecting trait models, and being consistently true to yourself.

I can go on writing pages up on pages on what I think and feel now. But I think I just need to go to sleep.

By the way, I have loads of other pages that I keep on writing privately, because I don’t feel very comfortable sharing such private moments and deep feelings, but may be just may be I’ll start blogging more publicly about being an LGBT+ individual and leader in the workplace and in life in general. And help spread some light.

You don’t light a lamp and put it under a bowl, instead you put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. ๐Ÿ™‚

2018 – Year of the pursuit

It’s a tradition which I hate to break; on the first day of every year, I write about my overall hopes and fears, what I aim to accomplish throughout the year, what would bring me joy and what would bring me tears.

This year will be the year of the pursuit, according to a verse in Quran which roughly translates to (and his “the human’s” pursuit will be seen/witnessed)

I believe that all I have to do to give my best and wait for the results.

So this year I’ll be pursuing a shift in my career towards more business aspect, more efficient, more impactful, and more connected.

I’ll be pursuing an investment in my own being, my knowledge, skills, peace of mind, and above all, my own wellbeing.

I’ll try to keep trying to reach out to my kids. I won’t give up on that as long as I breathe.

And just like every year, it will not come without challenges.

The biggest challenges I see are:

– the current shift in my life style and shortage of ‘me’ time

Believe it or not, having a car had a negative impact on my peace of mind !! I used to spend that quality me time on the bus, on the train, reading, listening to music, walking between trees. Now that I started to rely more on driving, this ‘me’ time is fading away slowly, so I need to reintroduce this some how.

– living with someone poses all sorts of challenges, living with someone is remarkably different than just knowing someone; different habits, different opinions, and sometimes frustrating situations

– towards the end of 2017 my energy levels plummeted a bit too much, my challenge will be to bring this back up

During September and November I had two major surgeries, after which I closed the page of my transition, however this came with a high toll on my energy levels, being almost continuously ill or using pain killers for 3 months (and counting) comes with a hefty price tag at the expense of your own sanity and will to do things.

– another challenge is to start saving some money for a rainy day

As a contractor I had a bit of good cover should things go south, but now this cover is gone, so I need to do some actual money management decisions (ISA ? Pension ? Etc?)

– charity; yes it’s a challenge

I’ve been trying to do some contributions to few charities, but I want to widen this base, to hopefully reach out more and help others achieve more

– at work, being now slightly isolated from the rest of the wider team is a true challenge

As we moved offices during last August/September, I was given a really nice spot, however that made me lazy going around and about meeting other colleagues, so I need to break this bad habit and get a** moving and catch up with people over coffee or have face to face meetings, etc, so I need to reconnect better, and be much more active.

Oh, and realistically speaking, I don’t think I’ll be starting my MBA this year.

2017 was the year where I bloomed and shined brightest (so far). 2018; you’ll be the year of pursuing a sustainable growth, sustainable success, and a future place under the sun.

World, mark my words ๐Ÿ™‚

Love,

Nour

Reflections on the year of the Bloom (aka 2017)

 

Hey there,

Been a while, I know ๐Ÿ™‚

This is the time of the year when I feel I need to look back and see what has been going on, and look forward to what I can do better.

The year of the bloom (aka 2017) has been a truly remarkable year for me, during which I started driving in the UK (I have a car named Jesse), moved house to a smaller town, moved jobs (premanant role instead of contracting), gained few friends, bonded strongly with a very few, reconnected to old ones, lost a few, and made few enemies as well !!

Made 2 videos which were published throughout Vodafone for TDOV about my transition:

Both stirred lots of reactions; positive, negative.

But by far, this is the the worst I got from someone who was sacked shortly after I left VF Egypt after a severe misconduct from his side towards his line manager !!

Linkedin Response

But mostly and most remarkably is that I think I’m done with my transition; a multi year project which started early 2014, and gained momentum over the months and years. And now I believe I’m done.

During the year of the bloom (2017), I managed to achieve more than my wildest dreams. And I can say that I actually managed to live to the values and guidelines I put for myself during 2017, and completely debt-free. YaaaaaY ๐Ÿ™‚

Now with my transition behind my back, what’s left is to live on the rest of my life ๐Ÿ™‚

There has been two things/people that were haunting me:

  • my 2nd ex, and how resentful I am for every moment I lived with her, the amount of love I had for her, the level of my stupidity, OMG !!
  • my previous therapist in Egypt, and how i trusted her, and let her partially take control over some aspects of my life !!

If either of those was still in my life, I wouldn’t have even scratched the surface of what I accomplished to date. Both promoted fear, thrived on controling and manipulating.

What I need to let go, is my sense of guilt that I let those into my life and ignoring the signs.

What I need to let go, is my urge to write/talk to them telling them who wrong they were about me. But if there’s one thing that I learned, it’s that the only way to win over a narsassict, is not to engage at all !!!

So the only way forward for me is to forgive myself, and to let go.

There was a quote from Ice Age (you must let go of the past to have a future) โค โค

I’m blessed ๐Ÿ™‚

Love,

Nour

PS. Looks like my Americian-ish accent is fading away rapidly, and being replaced by a west London kind of an accent ๐Ÿ˜€