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25 September 2018Last updated
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Meet our Aquarius ambassadors

We’ve rallied a troop of some of our favourite go-to experts – women who are cruising at the top of their field, but still have their feet firmly on the ground – and asked them what they had to declutter from their minds, hearts and lives in order to get where they are today

Louisa Wilkins
10 Nov 2014 | 02:47 pm
  • Buffi Jashanmal.

    Source:Aiza Castillo-Domingo Image 1 of 7
  • Heidi Raeside.

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  • Dr Saliha.

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  • Louisa Coates.

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  • Sandy Gomez.

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  • Helen Williams.

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  • Taleen Marie.

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Buffi Jashanmal is a fashion stylist and fitness instructor
Dubai-raised Buffi, 34, from Bahrain, burst on to our radar in 2012 when she was a contestant on Project Runway. Now back in Dubai, she spreads her time and energy between her two passions – fashion and fitness. We love the fact that, although she is a bona fide fashionista, Buffi is just as happy wearing high street as high end, and that her approach to fashion is more about finding your own style than following trends. 

“A buyer I knew once told me,‘You are spreading yourself toothin’. I think this is so true... I hear it often. I tend to want to do everything... I have had to learn to accept that it is simply not possible and that delegation is important.

I try to remember that there is nothing wrong with sharing the job and that, sometimes, in order to get something done, you’ve got to give a bit of your ‘baby’ away. That’s something I have had to give up in order to achieve my goals and dreams – the desire to do everything. I have a guitar gathering dust, French CDs under the bed and a new pair of roller blades. But sometimes you’ve got to just pick one thing, and make sure you achieve it – and do it well – before you move on to the next thing.”

Heidi Raeside is the author of Tuesdayschild.me parenting blog and a marketing consultant
We joined forces with Heidi, 33, from the UK earlier this year when she was guest editor on our first issue of Aquarius Baby. We loved her down-to-earth attitude to parenting, her unflinching honesty, and her unapologetic stance on feminism. With her finger on the mothering pulse of the city and her feet firmly on the ground, she’s our go-to girl for all things kid related.

“I used to believe that being a full-time mum would make me boring and miserable. I came to Dubai 10 years ago on my own, driven by my strong professional ambition. I never planned to give up my job in financial PR... Children featured in my future plans, but always alongside my career. Having two children close together meant I had to take a long break from my job.

It was hard because I don’t say ‘no’ easily, so I kept taking on small projects that I didn’t really want to make time for. Finally I let it all go and surrendered to being a full-time mum – with a blog. My family and friends are as surprised as I am by how much I love being a stay-at-home mum. I don’t miss my career at all. I have a real laugh hanging out with my sons and I know I am no less a person for it.”

For more from Heidi, visit her blog or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

Dr Saliha Afridi is a clinical psychologist and the owner of The LightHouse Arabia
We first met Dr Saliha five years ago when we interviewed her for an article on the grief felt by daughters who’d lost their mothers. We were struck by how open she was about her own emotions and experiences, her smart thinking and her ability to identify sources of pain in people’s lives. Since then, she’s been one of our first ports of call for hard-hitting emotional truths.

“When I arrived in Dubai in 2008, I found that many of the psychological and psychiatric clinics focused more on business and less on therapeutic service. My vision was to create a place where people could be supported through their storms by qualified people who understand and care. I faced many challenges... I was told it wouldn’t be taken seriously in this male-dominated industry – that I was an idealist and that the clinic would sink. I had to break through this loud, and often paralysing, clutter of negativity, as well as through my own fears of failure and rejection, and find a way to stay true to my vision. I learnt that when you have a deeply held conviction about your ‘why’, then any ‘how’ or ‘what’ can be overcome.” 

To book an appointment with Dr Saliha or one of her team, call 04 380 9298 or visit www.lighthousearabia.com.

Louisa Coates is an executive coach and director at Davos Consulting Group
Louisa, 54, from the UK has been advising readers on how to achieve career success for more than four years. With a background in recruitment and HR, and a passion for helping people achieve their potential, Louisa is full of career-savvy pearls of wisdom – offering advice on everything from how to dress for an interview to how to dream big, but real.

“I used to believe that leadership was about gaining consensus – about having everyone behind you. But that just doesn’t always work... and it takes too much time and energy. To be a leader, you have to decide when to stand up for what you think is right, go for it and deal with the objections later. A wonderful colleague once gave me that bit of feedback and I’ll always be grateful to her because of it. Also, I used to believe that being good at my job would be enough. It’s not. You have to work on your network (the clue is in the word – it’s work) and learn to be politically savvy right from the beginning. Women in particular often struggle with that.”

To find out more about executive coaching with Louisa, visit www.davosconsult.com.

Sandy Gomez is a beauty blogger
This 29-year-old Sri Lankan is a banker by trade, beauty enthusiast by heart. We love her determination and passion for all things beautiful, and her belief that our beauty lies in what makes us different from the norm.

“I used to think that beauty was all about perfection – stick-skinny, large dolly eyes, porcelain skin, razor-cut high cheek bones with sharp angular features and long, flowing hair. And yet the women I met had facial features that were varied and different from what would be considered ‘beautiful’. These deviations did not make them ugly. But the people I met did not strike me as attractive. However, after a while, I began to see the beauty in their unique features and body shapes and, finally, I began to see each person as being beautiful in his or her own right. It was hard to let go of my beauty ideals. But I’m glad I did, because it opened my eyes to the true definition of beauty – which is all about imperfections and flaws.”

For more from Sandy, visit her blog at www.diaryofabeautybanker.com  or follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest.

Helen Williams is the owner and director of LifeWorks
Since the moment we first met Helen, 65, from New Zealand back in 2007, we have been drawn to her enduring warmth, emotional wisdom and her unshakable commitment to helping people find joy in their lives. As one of our go-to experts, we have ultimate faith in her ability to talk sense, no matter how distressing the topic.

“I used to believe that life was smaller and less kind. Experience has taught me that the opposite is actually true. The main lessons I have learnt are to let go of being attached to a specific outcome and, instead, to open up to the vast field of possibilities that exist way beyond my present comprehension and experience. That is really living! To achieve my dreams, I had to let go of other dreams... such as being with my family. Becoming an expat has meant letting go of the possibility of being in the everyday lives of my children and grandchildren, and embracing the notion that holiday time will be what we experience together as a family This is at times both very painful and filled with joy!”

To book an appointment with Helen or one of her team, call LifeWorks Personal Development on 04 394 2464, or visit www.lifeworksdubai.com.

Taleen Khanoyan is a fitness trainer and co-owner of Elite Aesthetics DXB
When this 27-year-old American/Armenian bounced into our offices looking like something off MTV, our male colleagues’ jaws dropped to the floor while all the women thought, ‘what do I have to do to look like that?’ With a boundless energy and enthusiasm for fitness, and a dedication to spreading the healthy word, Taleen lives and breathes her message and inspires us to follow suit.

“Letting go of your past is difficult and reinventing yourself is one of the hardest things to do. It can be a scary step making a change... and that is exactly what I did. Having been a singer and songwriter in the music business for 10 years, I decided to shift my focus to another passion – health and fitness. As much as I love music, I also love helping people feel better about themselves through fitness. As I get older, I find it easier to let go of negative people. It becomes apparent who has negative energy and you simply choose not to have them in your life any more.”

For health and fitness tips from Taleen, follow her on Facebook; search for Tal Fitness.

Louisa Wilkins

By Louisa Wilkins

Editor