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Anona Community: Meet Fatima Alk


Nationality: Lebanese/Algerian

Anona Wellness Profile: 7/10

SECTION ONE: Getting Familiar with Fatima

Tell us a bit about yourself! What’s your name, background, etc.

My name is Fatima, I’m 31 years old, half Lebanese and half Algerian. I was born in Canada, went to school in Canada, and grew up in Canada.


What does your typical day look like?

I wake up, get my husband and I’s food ready (we both work full time jobs). After work is done, I try to come home and relax a bit after a long day and try to keep it easy. I try to keep it routine and standard so that when times come up where things aren’t routine, I have these times to look back to.


What do you like to do for fun? Do you have any hobbies or special interests?

I think it’s so important to know what you enjoy. I’ve noticed that I actually really enjoy solitude and that time to reconnect with myself. As we grow we change, and I think its important to self-reflect and I think it’s a big part of wellness.


I’m also really into cooking these days. I’m trying to get into my husband’s culture (he’s from Yemen), and the cuisine is really interesting. It has a lot of Indian influence, East-African influence, and Arabic influence. They have these dishes that I’ve never seen before and it’s amazing. Other than that, I’m really into fast and simple foods – things like marinades for chicken breast and getting meals together that won’t take me 2 hours to make.


Other than cooking, it’s hard to find the time for other hobbies. I used to be a huge reader, but after college, I haven’t been able to find the time. I’m also a huge fan of watching TV after work – I usually put it on just to numb my brain a little bit.


How have your dreams and goals changed throughout your life?

My goals and dreams haven’t really changed. I remember being a kid and having really big aspirations to become a wife, a mother, a woman of the house where I’m raising them and I’m teaching them. I really had that at a young age, and now that I’ve grown up, I know what it’s going to take to get there. Like now that I’m older, the idea of making a down payment on a house? Now I’m realizing that I might not be a homeowner because it’s a lot harder to achieve than it looks.


Overall, I’ve always wanted a family, to raise kids, raise them, and to give them a heads up about what this world is going to be about. I love the idea of being an influence and I think it’s a really big honour in this world to know that you helped bring someone in who is going to make the world a better place.

SECTION TWO: CULTURE

How closely do you identify with and affiliate with your culture? How assimilated into mainstream culture do you think you are? How assimilated into mainstream culture are the members of your family?

My mom is from Algeria and my dad is from Lebanon. And those two countries alone are very different. It’s very interesting how it goes when I approach each of my parents about the same subject and see how they handle it. My mom is a survivor and she’s a no BS type of person. My dad on the other hand is more laid back in his approach to things.


I definitely had a hard time balancing my parent’s cultures and Canadian culture. It was especially difficult when I would approach some of the major milestones in life. Even as a teen, when all my friends were going out past 9 pm and I wasn’t allowed to, it was definitely a hard thing and it took a while to wrap my head around it. I always just thought there was something wrong with my parents at the time because I didn’t understand why they were different from some of my friends’ parents here. Honestly, looking back, I realize it was coming from a place of fear for them.

SECTION THREE: Wellness

What comes to mind when you think of wellness?

I measure it based on how well I do in hard times. I look in times that are stressful or where I have a conflict and assess how I handle it, because that tells me how well I’m doing overall. Think about it, we can be happy, there are days that go by when everything is smooth and good, but as we know, life is not always that great, things happen, lots of sad things that sometimes aren’t in your control. As life goes on, you have to have ways of dealing with those things, and for me, I think that how I handle those times tells me how well I’m doing with respect to wellness.


Do you think that wellness and associated activities are typically well understood/accepted within your culture and overall community?

Not at all. I can only speak to the cultures that I know, but for me, we were raised in such a religious way that whenever anything would happen, we were told to turn to religion to get us through hard times. While I’m a strong believer, I also understand that there are additional tools that can help us get through hard times.


It’s about knowing that you have so many options for where to look for support, and it doesn’t always have to be with your parents or with your community or culture. If that’s what helps you, then that’s okay, but if it’s not, then that’s not the be all end all.


I was a big reader, so I was always into novels and stories growing up. Through that, I got to experience a lot of stories about people in situations, and when I would see characters going through things, I would pay attention to how they were dealing with issues. Through reading, I knew from a young age that I did have options for handling the issues that I went through in life.


What wellness activities do you typically engage in (if any)?

I love to use oils! Essential oils, olive oil, almond oil, etc. I’ll literally just rub them on my face, my nails, my hair everything. For me it’s just nice to know I’m doing something to take care of myself and that I did something to value myself.


Are there any activities that you’ve always been interested in trying, but haven’t tried yet? Why haven’t you?

Yoga. I read a lot about it, and I really love everything that they say about it. Not only are you exercising your body, but it seems like it’s not a stressful exercise. I stretch at home, but I know it’s not professional. I really want to do it in a class setting and for it to be guided. Especially when it comes to the breath and making sure that it’s in sync.


I haven’t tried yoga because I can’t really justify spending on it at the moment.


In a perfect world, what wellness activities would you like to see more of in your community?

I think at this point my focus is more on kids. I think it would help if things like yoga and meditation were brought in as activities within elementary, middle, and high schools. I think being exposed to these activities as young kids can help us as adults start to learn what tools to turn to as we go through hard times.


In my elementary school, we had these after school programs. And it was cute, but we did these cool programs like gymnastics and karate and all that and our parents paid like $20 a semester to do it for the after school program. Then when I grew up and wanted to get back into it, I realized it costs a lot of money. I just feel like being introduced to something like yoga at a young age, even just simple sequences, would have been a lot more practical for me as an adult. I think things like knowing how to do breathing exercises would have been such an important skill to have as I grew up.

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