Happy Birthday to me.

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Dear Self,

This year didn’t start the way you expected. But it ended exactly the way you wanted it to be. The way it should’ve ended.

I’m sorry for what you had to go through, but all I have to say is this: I’m proud of you. Through all the ups and downs, you continued to fight and managed to get through everything with a big fat smile. Always.

Be proud of everything you have gone through, and everything you have become. It hasn’t been easy, I know. But hey, everything will make sense to you one day. Don’t you always say “Everything in life happens for a reason?”  Wasn’t that always the phrase you live by? Well trust me, it’s all about timing. Wait and see. You are in the exact place you are meant to be right now. Trust the course of your life and take things the way they come. Accept life for what it is. Even though sometimes you think you are broken, there is so much beauty in your all your pain. You are stronger than anything that has tried to tear you down. You are a survivor. Celebrate the times you have, the times you had, and the awesome people around you. The people that have been with you since day one and that have stuck by your side through the good and bad. Be thankful for what you have and keep on lighting other people’s lives and inspiring them to move forward.

Stay strong. Be more beautiful than ever. Keep on doing the things you love with passion. Make them wonder how you do it all. Most importantly, enjoy the last year of your 20’s. It’s going to be kick ass. Trust me. You are in for one the best years of your life. I know it.
So here’s to you, miss 29. Here’s to an awesome year ahead. Here’s to all the darkness and the bad choices you’ve made. Here’s to the sadness and here’s to happiness as well.

Before I go to bed, I just want you to remember something. Remember not to settle for less than you deserve. Remember to be careful the next time you give your heart to someone. Remember that you have to be there for yourself. Remember that you are the only person promised to be in your future. Remember the future is yours.

Congrats for a solid year. Happy Birthday.

I look forward to hearing your updates a year from now.

Sincerely,
Me.

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Travel. Because it moves you.

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I travel because it makes me happy. I travel because it teaches me heaps about myself. I travel because it moves me. Of course travelling permanently isn’t as helpful to the world as being a doctor or a teacher is.  I have every respect for people doing those  academic jobs. But hey, If I got paid to travel and explore the world, then I’d take that offer in a heartbeat.

Well the way I see it, everyone has his or her own passion for things. Some people love to sing, some get great pleasure chilling on the couch or watching series. Broadly, I’d say mine is travelling, but it’s more than just that. It starts from that very moment I get in that taxi and head to the airport and wander around watching people’s overjoyed faces. I’m always curious to find out where these people are heading, where their next destination is.

Take my five day trip to Srilanka two weeks ago. I went with one of my favorite people in the office. It was just me and her. Tete a tete. It was awesome.

I spent five days on the beach. I spent five days doing the things that I love, and the things I never had time doing in Dubai. I had time for myself. I had time to sit with my thoughts and be okay with them, whatever they are. I found out countless things about the people and their beautiful culture and even learnt some extremely valuable lessons about how much we have to be thankful for.

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And that’s not even touching on all the little moments I had talking to different nationalities. I met  people from different countries and I made friends in Spain who were so awesomely welcoming and who are showing me around their city next month! I’m not saying it was an absolutely perfect five star trip, from finding two lizards creeping on our wall, to not having any water to shower in, to getting dirty towels sent to our room, but honestly, that’s what made the trip so awesome.

I learned so much about myself in these five days. I learnt that life is amazing. I learnt that sunsets on trips are the most majestic. I learnt that you don’t have to be obsessed with museums to appreciate culture, art, and history. I discovered that I’m able to do  100 pushups on the sand. I learnt that Karmel has a big fear of lizards. I learnt that I have a crazy obsession with the ocean. I learnt that I look pretty good with braids. I learnt that I can live without eating chicken for 5 days. I learnt that I need to travel every couple of months to keep my inspiration going.

 

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I travel with bad hair, no makeup, and I get more scars from travel than I can ever count. But I embrace it fully because it’s a reminder of the story that accompanies it.

I travels and then write all my thoughts down as a way of freeing my mind and sharing my passion with the world. Write as a way to remember the way you were feeling during your travels at any given moment.

I travel because it reiterates my independent, free, and radiant spirit.

I travel because I discover myself. I get lost and find my way again.

I travel because it opens my eyes to the real things in life. The world is a huge place. There’s so many beautiful places to see; And there’s no way that I’m ever going to be completely satisfied with my ever increasing places to visit list, but I hope to see as much as I can for as long as I live.

Now you. Be the girl who travels, unless of course, traveling isn’t for you. In which case, be the person you want to be, and embrace it fully.

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Read this if you have a crazy obsession on food and travel.

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Who doesn’t love Uncle Tony? Come on, Bourdain is the man. If you haven’t read Kitchen Confidential yet and have an obsession with food like I do then drop everything your’e doing right now and go buy this book. Epic read.

I got home late last night and was famished and stumbled across Thought Catalog’s piece on Bourdain where they’ve shared 21 of his inspiring lessons on life.  And most importantly on food.  Lots of food and travel coming my way in the next couple of weeks so gotta start prepping.

Read this for some inspiration.

“If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them – wherever you go.”

“We know, for instance, that there is a direct, inverse relationship between frequency of family meals and social problems. Bluntly stated, members of families who eat together regularly are statistically less likely to stick up liquor stores, blow up meth labs, give birth to crack babies, commit suicide, or make donkey porn. If Little Timmy had just had more meatloaf, he might not have grown up to fill chest freezers with Cub Scout parts.”

“There’s something wonderful about drinking in the afternoon. A not-too-cold pint, absolutely alone at the bar – even in this fake-ass Irish pub.”

“But I do think the idea that basic cooking skills are a virtue, that the ability to feed yourself and a few others with proficiency should be taught to every young man and woman as a fundamental skill, should become as vital to growing up as learning to wipe one’s own ass, cross the street by oneself, or be trusted with money.”

“Under ‘Reasons for Leaving Last Job’, never give the real reason, unless it’s money or ambition.”

“The way you make an omelet reveals your character.

“Good food and good eating are about risk.

“Luck is not a business model.

“Good food is very often, even most often, simple food.

“You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together.”

“Skills can be taught. Character you either have or you don’t have.”

“Don’t lie about it. You made a mistake. Admit it and move on. Just don’t do it again. Ever.”

“What nicer thing can you do for somebody than make them breakfast?”

“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks – on your body or on your heart – are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”

“I don’t have to agree with you to like you or respect you.”

“The journey is part of the experience – an expression of the seriousness of one’s intent. One doesn’t take the A train to Mecca.”

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.

“I’m a big believer in winging it. I’m a big believer that you’re never going to find perfect city travel experience or the perfect meal without a constant willingness to experience a bad one. Letting the happy accident happen is what a lot of vacation itineraries miss, I think, and I’m always trying to push people to allow those things to happen rather than stick to some rigid itinerary.”

“Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”

“As incisively pointed out in the documentary Food Inc.,” an overwhelmingly large percentage of “new,” healthy,” and “organic” alternative food products are actually owned by the same parent companies that scared us into the organic aisle in the first place. “They got you comin’ and goin’” has never been truer.

“I have long believed that it is only right and appropriate that before one sleeps with someone, one should be able—if called upon to do so—to make them a proper omelet in the morning. Surely that kind of civility and selflessness would be both good manners and good for the world. Perhaps omelet skills should be learned at the same time you learn to fuck. Perhaps there should be an unspoken agreement that in the event of loss of virginity, the more experienced of the partners should, afterward, make the other an omelet—passing along the skill at an important and presumably memorable moment.”

Basil, Pesto, and some Gelato please.

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I just got back from a beautiful holiday in Italy with my mother. We started off at Rome, one my favorite cities, and then did a 5 day trip through out the Almafi coast stopping by Sorrento, Capri, and Positano. The Almafi coast was breathtaking, but there is something truly different about Rome.  I can’t put it into words. If you’ve been to this city, you would understand. Rome is so goddamn breathtakingly beautiful, so sexy, so ridiculously pretty at every turn that it has you thinking, this is a fairytale city. It’s also the city where my fiancé proposed, which makes me love it even more.

One of the things I was most looking forward to about this visit to Italy was the food. For me Rome is where the fundamental elements; olive oil, grapes, vegetables, basil, pesto, pizza, cheese, seem to make most sense, in a very complicated way.

I remember the first pizza we had at a cozy little restaurant close by the Spanish Steps. I was craving a vegetarian pizza, and so was my mom. I still remember the smell of the freshly baking dough made that my mouth water. The dough was crunchy on the outside and marshmallowy soft from the inside topped with grilled vegetables dipped in fresh pesto sauce. I literally felt the spark of life returning to my zombie brain.

Let’s talk desserts now. I’m not a dessert person (as many of you will know or have guessed) but gelato is a must in Italy. Buonocare Gelateria in Capri, is the best Gelato I’ve had in Italy. We literally just followed the fantastic scent of the waffle cones and made it to the shop. The lines were REALLY long, but it was worth every second. If you are in Capri and a fan of gelatos, you are absolutely doing yourself a disservice if you do not indulge in at least one cone from Buonocore Geletaria! I’m telling ya, every gulp of that gelato makes your heart melt.

Here are some recent gelato pics to feed your eyes and soul:)

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Back to food for a minute. How can I forget my favorite sauce in this world. PESTO! I grew up eating pesto. Pesto, Pesto and more fresh wonderful tasting and smelling basil, parsley, pine nuts , garlic and cheese… this smell really gets to me. The scent of fresh basil blending with the comforting warmth of the nuts and garlic. HEAVEN! I smelt it at every street, at every corner. It was following me everywhere! I think I ate my weight in Pesto while in Italy.


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And so on a full stomach I returned to Dubai feeling as though I had left a little piece of my heart in this living, breathing fairytale city of history, love, and food.

Rome. Until. We. Meet. Again.

Btw-It doesn’t end just here, but I will do myself a favor and end this post for now as I’m literally rushing off to make myself a big plate of grilled pesto veggies. Maybe some pasta to feed the belly.

The Inner Monologue of a Gym Rat

“What is it about working out that you are so obsessed about?” “Don’t you get bored doing the same cross-fit circuits every time?“ “Skip today’s session and join us for drinks.” I generally hear this from people who hate working out or have never stepped foot in a gym, and of course I ignore every word they say. I usually smile politely and internally seethe.

I don’t mean only hitting the gym, I mean generally working out, whether its running, swimming, dancing or weightlifting. If you do not particularly do any form of exercise then you are missing out big time.

See, when I’m not exercising, and even if I’ve hit the gym the day before, I’m consumed with anxiety about the next day’s workout. What if I end up getting an afternoon meeting request that drags on till 8pm? What if I get invited to a friends dinner that I’m unable to ditch? How can I sneak just another set of extra squats today?

It has spread like a virus over the last few years: an extra jog here, maybe another short session of strength training before I hit the beach, or some hip-hop sessions in my bedroom might be a good idea to get me some moves back? Minutes at the gym started to become sacred. Everything else in my day has become organized around my workouts, and taking a day off because I’m starting to get sick is not an option. Hell no.

It’s an addiction, but a good one. It calms me down. It makes me perform better at work. It makes me a happy. Yes, I have to admit, I am a gym rat, and I think this syndrome runs throughout my family. My sister is one of the top cross fit athletes in Lebanon; my dad has never skipped a morning jog for the past 7 years, my mom can walk all of Beirut in a day, and my brother is simply born fit.

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Me and paps hitting some abs

and thats my sister doing what she does best.

And thats my sister doing what she does best.

I’ve been working out for the past 10 years, and with time I’ve finally discovered a practice I LOVE and look forward to do everyday. That is weightlifting and high intensity intervals. Thanks for my sister for her daily inspiration and motivational tips, I have found the one workout that works really well with my body. If you haven’t found your movement flow yet, I encourage you to keep experimenting until you find that thing that feels most you, and trust me, once you find it, it will change your life.

In short the biggest exercise lesson: Love the way you move. Enjoy your workout, whatever kind of move it is, and do it with passion.  Do what your mind and body tells you.  That’s the key to sustainability and happiness.