This past Friday, I sat in self-isolation as my friend Mubarakah Ibrahim turned 44. In this time of fear and anxiety, her birthday words spoke to my heart. I texted her to ask if I might share them with you. She responded, “Sure, that would be fine.”

44 years ago today in a small shack in the deep south of Senoia Georgia, I was born by the headlights of a car. The hand-built shack my family lived in had no electricity and the sun was setting taking the natural light with it. I was delivered and my umbilical cord was cut by my father with his pocket knife. Sounds like a country song but it’s all true I swear. 

But when telling me the story of my birth, my mother would often start with the day my brother died. My brother Jilal was 3 years old running and playing on the farm when he went missing.  After a full community search from midday to right before sunset, his body was found at the bottom of the water well. He had somehow slipped in and drowned. As a parent myself I can’t imagine how devastated my parents were.

After that tragedy my parents tried for 3 years to get pregnant before they were blessed with me. And they named me Mubarakah “the blessed one” – Shareeffah “the noble.”

I often wondered why my mother would so often start with my brother’s death as the series of events that culminated with my birth.  

Why did she start with pain to explain her joy? 

Why did she start with her loss when she explained the blessing she gained?

As an adult and through my own life experiences I realized that it’s through suffering that we learn gratitude, through pain that we appreciate pleasure, and only after sadness do we know what joy truly feels like.  

I say this because as I sit here and reflect on my life in the midst of everything we are going though in the world I just wanted to remind myself and you that this is just a season of life and we can and will come out the other side stronger, better and blessed. 
I am grateful I have seen 44 years on this earth and every day I get to live my purpose: to educate and inspire others to live their healthiest happiest lives.  

I want to thank you for being a part of my community and allowing me to join you on your journey of health and wellness.

P.S. Mubarakah’s “community” includes thousands of people around the world. In 2007 Oprah featured her as a Thirty-something-in-America and is recognized as a Certified Master Oasis Trainer. In 2013 she sat next to President Obama at the White House Iftar. You may read more about Mubarakah here.  

My self-isolation?  Two weeks ago, I had complicated surgery for melanoma on my right cheek. Was I anxious?  You bet! If you wish, read more about my anxiety and how I used Oasis Strategies to get me through. I am still in the recuperation period, resting at home, and still using Oasis to help me ride the waves of the coronavirus reality. 

Thanks to all who send prayer/light/love. As Mubarakah did, I thank you for being a part of my community and allowing me to join you on your journey of health and wellness.

Take very good care of yourself and those closest to you. It is the best thing you can do for the world today.

Here’s  my little Oasis Sanity Tip: 

Take a few minutes today to give thanks to your parents – wherever they may be – and “the fates” for bringing you into the world at this time.

Ask yourself the key questions:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What am I here for – right this minute?
  3. What am I on this planet for?

Written by Millie Grenough — Feel free to comment / share


  • Millie Grenough

    Author of Oasis in the Overwhelm, Life Coach, Clinical Instructor in Psychiatry

    Yale University School of Medicine

    Millie Grenough is known for her ability to inspire people to do what they thought was impossible. Millie walks her talk: ex-shy Kentuckian turned Yale Instructor and life coach, ex-nun turned nightclub singer, she has taught non-swimmers to swim, non-singers to sing, burnt-out CEOS to re-boot, frazzled parents to chill, warring parties to work together. She is also a Certified Rubenfeld Synergist and Clinical Social Worker. Her book, Oasis in the Overwhelm - 60-second Strategies for Balance in a Busy World, has helped thousands of people live healthier, happier, more meaningful lives. D. Murali of The Hindu Business Line calls Millie's Oasis Strategies "A whiff of fresh air...a clear stream of reason in the dreary desert sand of dead habit."