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.

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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.

Stay open. Stay Hungry.

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Don’t you feel like you are never satisfied enough? Like you always want more. Like you are never completely content with what you have. Don’t take this the wrong way. I’ve never felt happier and healthier than I am at this point of my life. I live in one of the world’s most busiest and vibrant cities, have the most loving and caring fiancé, work in an excellent PR firm, and have the most awesome family anyone can ever ask for. I am thankful for all this and I really am blessed for everything that I have. But at times I just feel like there’s more to life, there’s a life out there that I’m missing out on. Don’t you go through this? People never want to be where they actually are. Sometimes, I think it’s just me trying to find the greenest of all the grasses. Other times I think that god just created me this way, like gratification isn’t a comfortable state for me. I’m always wanting more, more, more, and contentment is a standstill.

I get bored easily. I crave change. I like my hunger. I always say to myself this: If I’m happy and satisfied with everything I have around me then there is really nothing to look forward to in life. If I have everything that I need, what else is there to do? But at times, I feel that that this approach is not right, if you worry about what might be, and wonder what might have been, you will ignore what is.

I do like my routine. I like my daily workouts, and I absolutely hate myself when I skip them. I like going to bed at respectable hours. I like my morning cinnamon and raisin oatmel. I like waking up to Lionel Richie’ all night long tune. I love my 30 minute reading session before bed time.

With all that, I still feel that I need some sort of rush. Some fire.

What I love about my job is that I have no such thing as a daily routine. Each day holds a surprise. I might be in Ras Al Khaimah riding a golf cart one day, the next day I might be working with a bunch of local artists supporting their career paths and helping them become Dubai’s biggest stars, other days I might be chilling behind my desk writing an article on the declining prices of real estate in Dubai. Take a moment and think about the different surprises that come across you in your day. You all have them, but you never truly value them.

I met my fiancé for the first time almost 10 years ago in High shool. We never spoke, never said a word to each other. 6 years later, we met on a random night in Hamra. I was out with some girlfriends having a drink when all of them decided to go back home. My brother decided to pop by late, and something inside of me told me to stay with my him and so I did, and I bumped into Rami on my way out. I told him he reminded me of Mark Wahlberg. And boom, we got engaged 2 years after that.

I got an email one day from dad’s friend asking me to meet his younger cousin, Suleiman. This was 2 years back, when I was living in Qatar. He politely asked me to give Suleiman a call and  introduce him to my friends as he has just moved from DC and knew absolutely nothing about the country, and had no friends. His email was in my junk folder for over a month. I rarely ever check my junk items, but I decided to check it that one day, and I saw his email. I called up Suleiman and took him out with my friends for some drinks. Today, Suleiman has become part of my family. He’s more than a brother to me. He is my fiance’s best friend, and neighbor in DC. Suleiman made Qatar home for me and all my friends. His home became our home. I can easily say that my life in Qatar wouldn’t have been the same without Suleiman and his family.

Life is spontaneous. Its full of magic. I hate planning my life. I love surprises. I get worried that if i plan every moment of my life, I have no room for excitement. I have no room for the unexpected, the magic, the fire. And, that’s what I want. I want to open my life up enough to experience that everyday kind of surprise. Because life can be a lot of gloomy things, but it can also be so, so, so many good things, that’s the thing to remember.

Remember that all we ever have is right now. Forget about the past. Don’t worry about the future. Take each day as it comes, and most of all, stop thinking that the grass is greener, because it never really is.  I will need to work on that part.

I’m A Total Geek for Old Romance.

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I miss and crave everything about old fashioned, geeky, and corny romantic moments. We are so god damn trapped by technology that we somehow lost the excitement of old school romance. I’m happily engaged, and my fiancé is probably the most ant-social media person I have ever met.  He hates it, and I adore him for that because I’m the complete opposite. It does make an absloutely perfect match.

I was inspired to write this post last night at Trader Vics. I took a few minutes to observe the people that were hanging out (singles and couples) and I just had so much on my mind that I just wanted to spill out on paper.

The Cell phone- I admit that I am addicted to my cellphone. I really hate it though. I really miss the old days, the days where we couldn’t indulge in sending two or three word texts every minute, and there was no option of sending endless selfies with slightly varying pouts and gradually diminishing sunlight as the day rolls on. Plans were made, and stuck to. There was no ditching, no chance of better outings coming in and someone being avoided – dates were scheduled and penned into a planner.

Breaking it down on the dance floor-Why the hell does no one  dance anymore? This really irritates me. I do not recall the last time I saw a boy asking a girl for a nice romantic slow dance. Why? What happened to all you men out there? In the good, old days, almost everyone would gather on the dance floor and men would lead confidently and never whine.There were nightclubs where big bands would play, and lots of men owned one good suit, and lots of women owned a nice flared skirt and a bright shade of red lipstick. Or am I confusing the past with some particularly vivid scenes from “Hairspray” and “Grease”? Moreover, instead of dancing, we are repeatedly encouraged to watch other people dance while we sit still and stare. This one seems to have been completely lost today, as we seem to have forgotten the innocence and the mystery of a real dance with a boy, not knowing what will happen or where it will lead. Now, we are all about those wild raves where you have to side-step pools of vodka (and tears) on the dance floor. So elegant.

The geeky love letters- I want to talk about the death of love letters for a sec. Sadly, e-mails and lame text messages has triggered the decline of the handwritten meaningful note. If there was a mailing list I could sign up to and have love letters sent to my door I would do it in a heartbeat. Hint to Rami- if he is reading this now. The idea of having something delivered and dropped through a mailbox is so magical and wonderful and women absolutely love it– and would definitely be Instragrammed or tweeted in a second with a backdrop of candles and rose petals.

These old-fashioned romantic moments are too good to be lost on the modern world. Girls and boys, wake up and walk away from the social media world every once in a while. Drop the smartphone, enjoy the moment, and sit with the discomfort of being without your contraceptive surviving relief — the smartphone — and start looking at all the cool and awesome people that have been there the whole time wanting to meet you. You have so much out there waiting for you- you just need to go out there and make it happen.

What My Long Distance Relationship Feels Like.

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And whoever thought I would be doing so well? Well everyone did except myself.

When Rami broke the amazing news to me about his acceptance to DC, my heart melted. I couldn’t imagine going through one single day without him in Doha. No way. You will never know how hard it is to be alone in Doha until you move here. Everyone living here knows exactly what I mean.

It’s been a month since I last saw his face. So, how is it going you might ask? Honestly, I never thought or even imagined I would take it so damn well.

So what happened? I guess it was the way I approached it. Rami was going off to pursue something he’s been wanting to do for a while . His passion. And how can someone like myself, a girl who is all about following dreams and taking risks, not encourage her own fiancé to do that? I wanted him to do it, and I wanted him to be happy. And he made the right decision.

How am I doing? Pretty good so far. I’m making sure to make the most out of every day. Work has been very busy, so that’s always good. I’m spending quality time with friends that I was never able to see before. The friends that I’ve made here have become my family. I’m truly blessed for this.

I’m also back to my hardcore workout and health addiction. Well I never left it in the first place, but it has become a part of my life. I work out 5 times a week and eat super clean. I have found a way to incorporate the way I work out into how I live my life.  It. Just. Works.  I don’t have to plan for hours on end or try to fit it in.  I have simply made fitness a priority and not drudgery or a duty or an appointment that I have to keep.  My relationship with fitness no longer defines how I want to look or something that I may or may not continue.  Fitness for me is insurance.  Insurance that I’ll get through my day, live longer, and someday lift my children high above my head rather than sit quietly while I hold them in my lap. It makes me happy, and I gotta thank my sista for the daily inspiration. Love you my CrossFit Champion!!

I’m also back to reading novels, back to cooking, and actually have time to slip through a movie or 2 a week.

A lot of my girlfriends ask me “How are you guys taking this? Do you guys fight? How are you coping being so far away? Well I just say one thing. Always follow your heart, and because no matter how seemingly impossible the circumstance, sometimes you just have to, well, let love happen.

Rami is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I knew he was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with from our first date. We have the strongest bond, its crazy. We provide so much reassurance to each other, which makes everything feels so right.

Often, conducting a long-term relationship relies on your ability to think positively and make the best from a less than ideal situation. And that’s how I decided to take it.

You deserve a life. Your significant other does too. You both deserve friends and work happy hours and wild nights out and spontaneous daytime excursions and fun and laughter and more. People tend to do funny things when they’re lonely – they get jealous of experiences that don’t involve them, and resentful of memories that don’t include them. Don’t be that person. Go out and make your own memories.

Being in love makes being in a long-distance relationship easy. If your love is effortless, if it branches and grows like ivy across a brownstone, reaching and settling into every nook and crevice, being in a long-distance relationship will be a breeze.

So be honest with yourself and your significant other. Be in love. And if you’re not in love, then end it. This is how you survive a long-distance relationship.

Thanks to my good friend Rola Hajjar for inspiring me to write this post. See you soon:)