Posts in Lifestyle
Heaven lies Beneath Her Feet
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"All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother."

"A mother is the truest friend we have."

"The life of a mother is the life of her child: the two are blossoms on a single branch"

"A mother is the most beautiful gift life offers us." 

 

They say heaven lies beneath a mother's feet, so imagine the feeling of her embrace. A mother is she who can take the place of all others, but whose place no one else can take. Mother's Day has come and gone, and I witnessed a numerous posts filled with love and dedication on social media. It got me thinking, the only true emotions are the ones between a mother and her child.

I’ve witnessed sons and daughters yell at their mothers out of frustration. In the moment, I’d wonder if they only knew the pain of losing a mother, would they reconsider their actions? Think about missed opportunities; a kind word unsaid, not hugging good-bye, wishing you had a chance to redo certain moments… We tend to lose grasp of the value of everyday interactions until we lose someone we know. After all, we are human. It's only natural for us to make mistakes. The older I get, the more I learn the value of time spent with my mother. This goes beyond Mother's Day. There’s no need for a specific day or a reason to hug our mothers. To bring her flowers. To dedicate time and words to express how much she means. Everyday should be Mother’s Day.

There (is) nothing more beautiful or heartwarming than my mother's smile. The simple sight of her smile would bring me to tears. A few years ago, when my siblings and I were all attending college, my mom actually thought we were too grown and didn’t need her anymore. Imagine. She cried as she told me. My heart sank, but I couldn't help laughing as I hugged her because what she thought couldn't be further from the truth. She (is) my everything. Every time I ran to her when I was sad or called her to tell her about my day, I'd remind her of the time she thought I didn't need her anymore and she'd laugh. But it wasn't her fault that she felt that way, it was my job to make her feel like the angel she (is). 

I knew her before I knew life. I only knew life with her in it. When she was ill, it was my job to care for her. The one day I got sick and couldn't get out of bed, I begged her not to. I begged her to rest, but she told me nothing could keep her from taking care of her child. The pain of seeing me suffer was more than the pain she felt while suffering from her illness. That day, she willed herself to get up and take care of me. 

This post isn't a Mother's Day gift guide or an #ad on Instagram… No. It is a reminder. 

A reminder to have patience with your mother. A reminder that although Mother’s Day has passed, embrace and appreciate your mother anyways. Remember that she may not always be perfect, but she truly is the most precious gift in your life. I realize not everyone has the best relationship with their mother, but a mother is a caretaker. Whether she is your grandmother, aunt, friend, sister. The force our mothers' exert on our hearts is stronger than gravity, and never leaves us. My mom thanked me for choosing her as a mother, when truthfully, I could thank God every day for the rest of my life and it still would not be enough to account for the blessing and honor of having her as a mother. 

Happy Mother's Day

 

Relationship Chapters - The Lessons I’ve Learned

Once upon a time … I’m kidding, that’s not how this story begins. We met in high school (Egypt 2008). I was the new girl, he was in my first class and we were partnered up — but that’s not how this story begins either. At the time, he had his life, I had mine and all we had in common was IB Arabic class. I thought he was annoying, but we did become friends. Though I called him ‘my acquaintance’ just to bother him.  Our real story actually began mid-2009, when once again we were partnered up (this time for a science project) and instead of working on it, we skipped and hung out all day. Somehow we started talking everyday. He was convinced I was his soulmate, I’d just laugh and tell him he was crazy.

Dating

The story of us dating is a long (kinda weird and a little high-school-drama-filled) one, but in retrospect a beautiful one, because it’s our story. One thing I know for sure is I didn’t know the first thing about dating. I didn’t know wtf I was doing, and I’ve come to realize almost no one does. It’s kinda like when you’re 10 and you think 23-year olds know what they’re doing, only to get to 23 and realize no one actually knew. Seriously, when I look back at that time I just laugh. It’s the same lessons. This I have to credit to my mom for teaching me which is 1. Stay true to yourself and 2. Go with the flow. There is no point in changing who you are just to get someone to like you, the right person will just like you more. Sounds super cheesy, it was not that romantic in high school. I was this independent-academic driven-unromantic girl who barely gave Abd-Allah the time of day, which only sent him chasing after me. I’m not saying to be like that, what I’m saying is that was truly who I was. I was just going with the flow, meaning you can’t force things to happen.  You know that girl/guy who has a timeline for when they’ll get married, knows how many kids they want, of what gender, and even has their names picked out? — first of all, nothing wrong with knowing what you want (stay true to yourself right) but, having so many expectations may create stress in the process of getting to know someone. There’s a balance between knowing what you want and letting things fall into place. I honestly didn’t have any expectations, (maybe I was too young) but I did feel the stress from my dad’s expectations and society’s. My mom was the person who would support me in every decision in my life, constantly fighting off the rules of society for me. Point is, dating should be a fun time getting to know someone else, when you’re living in the moment and you're confident. Throughout the years of our dating relationship I learned that it does take work but if it's meant to work out, it will.

Long Distance

Long distance relationships never work’ — I can’t count the number of times I heard this. Our relationship entered a long-distance chapter, for 4 years (all college years), and when nearly everyone was telling me it wouldn’t work, here we are 3 years into our marriage. The answers to everyone’s questions were pretty obvious. Yes, I did miss him and yes, I was sad we weren’t experiencing college together. At the same time I realize (more now, than at the time) I was able to build an independent relationship with myself, while also building a relationship with him. Sounds confusing. Basically I got to be my own person. I wasn’t defined as a couple, I wasn’t defined as someone’s girlfriend, I was me. I experienced hanging out with friends, spending time with family, socializing in classes, all as just me and learn who I am outside of our relationship.

As far as our relationship went, it heavily relied on communication and trust. Which was the best part (although it didn’t feel like it at the time) because that is when Abd-Allah truly became my best friend. Long distance is difficult, but if you look at it the right way, it can be a blessing in disguise to talk to someone everyday and really get to know them. I’m not even kidding, we spoke everyday. Unless we were upset with each other and even then I’m pretty sure we spoke (I learned it is actually possible to fight over how much you miss someone). It required a lot of communication. I talked to him about my day throughout the day, we Skyped, watched shows together at night, I woke up to his messages in the mornings, visited each other every few months. All we had was communication and trust, which to me is important in any relationship. It's emotional intimacy and it takes work, because suddenly what you say and how you say it matters. Even though being apart is a b***h, it will test relationships in a way that creates a strong bond with yourself and each other. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t, all I’m saying is never say never.

Engaged

Eventually the long distance chapter came to an end, which leads to the next one: engaged. Abd-Allah first brought up wanting to marry me very early on. The first time he said it was during one of our late night phone calls, I freaked out and hung up, then pretended my battery died… (probably shouldn’t have, but we were 19). When the time came though, I said yes. It was New Years 2014 and we were 21 years old. I know a lot of people get married at that age (some younger, some older), but I was ready to be engaged, not married. Everyone is different. Some people are happy just being engaged, some get married right away (wedding or no wedding), and some don’t end up staying together. No matter what anyone else expects, it’s important to move forward at the pace that’s right for your relationship. I wanted to treat ‘engaged’ as another chapter in our story and enjoy it, instead of rushing through it the way we were expected to. So we had a 2-year engagement, and thank God we did because planning a wedding is a struggle - trust me, you'll need patience with each other during wedding planning.

It was fun calling him my ‘fiancé’ that’s for sure, because when else can you say that. 

Married

First comes love, then comes marriage...” They say the first year of marriage is the hardest, and boy are they right. Whether you’re married or moving in together, they are both big (very similar) steps, because it’s like gaining a permanent roommate and having to learn how to live with each other in a different way than you’re used to. At least that’s how it was for me. Looking back at that chapter of our story makes me realize just how DUMB our arguments were (lol), one argument was over a plug-in fan I threw out (apparently it was his favorite fan, but I thought it was ugly). In the moment, it doesn’t seem dumb (that fan was really, really important to us) but what I’m getting at is it’s normal to argue

Weird to say since most people cringe at the idea that Abd-Allah and I argue. I get the “but you guys always seem so happy together” — we are, but nothing in life is perfect. Setting the example that silly little arguments are not normal (or don’t exist) is setting up other relationships to doubt themselves (not just in marriage but every chapter of a relationship). It’s far more romantic to dream of finding that person who will complete your life, rather than to imagine a relationship that involves time, energy, and investment. No matter what you see or think is perfect #relationshipgoals, all good relationships always require work. It’s not once you get to the finish line, that’s it. Marriage is not the end game, having a healthy long-lasting relationship is. I’ve learned that as long as we get over our fights and communicate, treat each other like friends, laugh together, respect each other, care more about what we feel than what others will think, then it’ll be just fine — because to me those should be the true #relationshipgoals.

3-year mark (anniversary ‘19)

Which brings me here, celebrating our 3-year wedding anniversary (3½ if you’re counting the Egypt wedding), 5 years since he proposed, 8 years since the start of long distance, and going onto 10 years since our story first began. After all these years I can honestly say that there is beauty in the imperfections of each chapter. Now that I can look back on it all, it’s like watching two kids figuring life out together. I hope one day I look back at our current arguments and roll my eyes at how dumb they are. Nothing is perfect, with each chapter love grows and you understand each other’s language of love better. I’m not a sports person, but he is always telling me his thoughts on it. It took me a while to realize it’s because he just loves to tell me everything on his mind — that’s a form of love. It’s noticing the little things as much as the big things, because the little things are valuable. They are the moments when you realize your partner genuinely wants you to be happy and that’s pretty close to perfect.

…and who knows, maybe my lessons don’t apply to you at all — but it’s okay to talk about the struggles, it’s okay to admit that as cute as ‘high school sweethearts’ sounds it was not all perfect.  It’s okay to say relationships take work, because they absolutely do. And when you see #couplegoals on Instagram don’t resent them but understand it’s just a photo, be happy for them. It’s okay to admit that no matter how great your relationship is, there are sometimes ups and downs. Sometimes we bicker like roommates and suddenly we’re laughing and playing hangman. It does not take away from how much I love my husband to admit it’s not always perfect.

 
[01/02/2019] Anniversary Date ended with us overdressed in a coffeeshop after dinner. Laughing and loving every minute of it. After 10 years together I will say this, it doesn’t matter how we celebrate our milestones, it only matters that we’re together. I used to think our ‘anniversary’ or ‘Valentine’s Day’ or whatever had to be this big, grand thing — not true, it just has to be memorable. Whether that’s an average Thursday or flying off somewhere, never forget that what matters most is how you feel.   Wearing : Monique Lhuillier   Dress

[01/02/2019] Anniversary Date ended with us overdressed in a coffeeshop after dinner. Laughing and loving every minute of it. After 10 years together I will say this, it doesn’t matter how we celebrate our milestones, it only matters that we’re together. I used to think our ‘anniversary’ or ‘Valentine’s Day’ or whatever had to be this big, grand thing — not true, it just has to be memorable. Whether that’s an average Thursday or flying off somewhere, never forget that what matters most is how you feel.

Wearing: Monique Lhuillier Dress

 
Give Me Experiences - Valentine's Day

A few years ago I posted a photo on Instagram and captioned it "give me experiences". Then I got a whole bunch of what does that even mean? questions. I used to be known for my random "deep" captions, but this one meant something. Forget the chocolates and the roses. Keep the necklaces and bracelets aside for now. Give me your hand to hold as we fly to visit new countries. Give me conversation. Give me your time. Give me experiences. Give me you. What it means is the older we get, the less we care for gifts. I realize the best things in life are memories and experiences. It is the simplest, yet most luxurious gift anyone could wrap up and offer me. On special days, like Valentine's Day, sometimes we want to do something different than Netflix and takeout —or an overpriced, prix-fixe dinner. A night of karaoke will make you happier than a new sound system, because experiences make us happier than material goods. I used to believe we were too young to celebrate Valentine's Day, but with school and work, sometimes we need to dedicate a day to enjoy time together, or even a cute card written just for you.

So with Valentine's Day approaching, here are some ideas to make the day (or upcoming weekend) unique and special. Spice things up and be spontaneous! (whether you're a couple or single showing yourself some self-love with your friends). 

1. Go on a staycation

You don't need to go anywhere to be spontaneous and travel. To experience the feeling of a home away from home, book into a romantic hotel. Take off work, don't make any plans and then get creative together for your day of relaxation.

2.Go Dancing.

Real dancing - You can take a class together or hit a salsa club.

3. Ice skating.

There's a reason why couples are always hitting the rink in our favorite rom-coms. Go with your girlfriends or your significant other. Ice skating is always a fun idea. 

4. A scavenger hunt.

You can make up your own, complete with creative challenges, photo missions, and sexy prizes or look for a local public event like the Amazing Valentine's Day Scavenger Hunt in New York City.

5. A wine & Tapas crawl.

Skip the prix-fixe Valentine's Dinner restaurant - Hop from place-to-place (you can always check Opentable for ideas), grab seats at the bar, and order different kinds of wine and tapas all along the way. Way more interesting experience than a sit-down dinner.

6. Be a tourist in your own town. 

Especially in Miami or NYC, there is so much to do that we sometimes don't take advantage. Put everything else on hold for the day and do all the activities you have on your list but haven't made time for. 

7. Watch old romantic movies. 

If you want to stay in but need a change from Netflix shows - stream classics like Casablanca and Roman Holiday or timeless favorites like Say Anything and The Bodyguard

8. Make a fort. 

Build a fort in the living room, lighten up the space with candles, and watch a movie to make the night more romantic. A fun adorable way to tap into your inner child, plus stay in and still enjoy Valentine's Day. 

9. Go to an Event

Tickets to a local jazz club, a musical, sports game or museum tour? Either idea will be fun and outgoing. Dress up and splurge on fancy cocktails to make the outing extra special.

But I get it who doesn't love flowers and some jewelry, or Valentine’s Day chocolates and fancy dinners. There's no reason you can't do both, if you can't think of a gift to get, below are some ideas. This Valentine's Day Abd-Allah and I celebrated early (since the 14th falls on a Wednesday). We chose to enjoy a weekend hotel staycation and act like tourists in our own city, but we still exchanged some gifts. And I love my gifts (as you can tell from my photos), but what I'll cherish most is the memory of laughing so hard at dinner it felt like an ab workout and watching the sunrise together on South Beach. I'll remember laughing and screaming as he was carried me into the ocean (because I didn't want to get my hair wet) and visiting the Frost Museum of Science (finally) because we kept putting it off. Point is whatever you chose to do, appreciate the time you spend with the people in your life. Don't stress and ruin the day over gifts or getting the best photo to share on Instagram - live in the moment and enjoy. 

gift ideas: For HER

gift ideas: For HIM