Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Books are given to you at the right moment for you to grow from. One was given to me before my travels. This book is aiding me to fully grasp my adventures, assist me to release my restrictions, and embody the culture I have placed myself within.

Books from loved ones are given for you to learn from. Words encrypted into the book illuminate that this is “a book that paves the way of how a traveler must disconnect and adapt to fully appreciate where they are.”

When I first got here that was my goal and has been my mission since I landed.

One of the chapter’s advice is given to the main character that says, “Try to relax completely, and go with the experience. Just… let yourself go sometimes…you have to surrender before you win”.
I thought I surrounded until I realized I fully didn’t let go.

Here in Lebanon, over 85% of the country is participating in a religious holiday called Ramadan. The holiday has you fast from sun rise to sun set.

Ramadan is a holiday given to break the norms. For you to resist your temptations, your rituals, and what you feel is necessary for each day. You can place yourself in the shoes of those with less that do not have food, constant water or the luxuries you have everyday. We do not realize how fortunate we are with our daily cup of coffee, our morning cigarette, our sandwich for lunch, or constant flowing amount of water. We break free of our habits during the sun hours to feel how the less fortunate lives. At the end of the month you also donate money to those in need. A beautiful holiday for you to reset you mind and body. To spend time with your families to break your fast. To feel how other people feel and be more compassionate towards everyone around us. 

I resisted at first to participate. Eating lunch, drinking coffee, and just prancing around as most of the country is sleeping and restless waiting for the evening hours. Many stores close during the breaking of the fast, and many restaurants stay open until the wee hours before the sun rises.

Last week we went to watch the sunset and have dessert by the water. We sat on the second floor of a restaurant that is built into the side of the mountain overlooking the sea and the first floor. As the sun slowly started descending to sleep, I looked down at all the families patiently waiting to eat. They had their tables covered with soups, tabbouleh, hummus, bread and other appetizers to break their fast. They all looked toward the sun and awaited it to fully let the sky envelop all of its color. They waited for the navy of the evening to fully drown the orange. Then they began eating. Traditionally you break your fast with a date, then soup. I watched as these many tables synchronized in one swift movement to eat their dates and soup. It was a beautiful site that made me realize I had not tried to relax completely and go with the experience. That day I decided to fast.

To fully surrender to the culture I am in.

I am embracing and fully letting go.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Beirut sending me messages.


Do you ever feel like a word, a song, a statement or something spoken to you brings you back to a certain time?

I felt that the other day.

One word brought me back to my childhood.

When I was born my father’s best friend was around often and became an uncle figure to me. He helped my parent’s out with taking care of me and has always been there my entire life. His parents, siblings and their children have also become a part of my family as well.

The other day we saw all his sisters, our faces lit up with excitement for the reunion, and we all scrunched together for hugs and kisses. All of them kept saying  “Shasha it is so good to see you!”


This was my first ever nickname. Many people don’t even know it exist now except a few of my very close long time friends.

Shasha was the name my brother gave me when he could first speak. He had a lot of trouble saying my full name so it became Shasha and as a child that was my name.

I haven’t heard that name in a long time. That moment when they said it I was instantly taken back. I felt myself become that overalls wearing little girl prancing around free as a bird. I was overcome by these memories of playing with my Barbies, dressing my brother in girl’s clothes, and just dancing in my underwear. That name was my childhood and I felt it filling up inside of me.
After these flashbacks of my chubby cheek days,  I realized that little innocent girl who always felt free was still inside of me.  She never left. She was just subdued by the fears of tomorrow, the pain of the past and the anxieties of today. There is no reason for that fear, pain or anxiety. We are still the children we once were. We need to revel in that innocence, welcome each moment and make the most out of every situation like we once did.  Let the creativity flow through us like the moment we received that fresh box of Crayola crayons with all the points perfectly ready for the coloring book pages. Let us dance to the beat of our own drum, be that in your underwear or clothed. Let us be free like the child within.

I am still Shasha.

& will always be.

art of couture

My internship is completed.
I have seen the world of couture from the beginning to end with Georges Hobeika.

His designs are spectacular, impressive and incredibly detailed. All the magic happens in the basement underneath his store in Beirut. That is where I spent the past four weeks.

I sewed by hand until my pointer fingers became numb from the amount of times I pricked myself. My fingers bled and my back hurt from the amount of sewing but it was an astonishing learning experience.

I saw first hand the creation process of couture gowns. The patience required to create these masterpieces. My appreciation for couture gowns has improved immensely. When I see the gowns featured in Paris in a week I will know the amount of people and time it took to create it. I will know the skill and patience needed from the beginning with the constructing of the pattern pieces, to the time it took to string all of the beads, crystals and sequins onto a string to be later stitched BY HAND into the garment, the amount of skill it took to sew the product together to perfection. 

I am so grateful to have been a part of the process of these couture gowns.

I have learned a great deal. My sewing confidence has excelled, and I am ready to start creating when I return home.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

international languages

Many things are difficult to translate when you fully don’t speak the common tongue of the country you are in. I fumble over my Arabic words at times trying to discuss things and don’t feel like I am fully expressing myself. With my words not fully able to express how I feel, I am realizing the things we have that can be considered an international language.

The number one translatable item through every single city, culture, religion, and continent is a smile. Laughter, happiness, giggling, a big wide toothed grin is understood by all.  When you are at a loss for words just smiling reassures the person that you are appreciative and pleased. A smile indicates so much; it can reveal gratitude, happiness, or bliss. Smiling towards a stranger walking on the street is always returned with a smile.

Our last trip to Lebanon, another international dialect became apparent to me and that was futbol (also known as soccer). The World Cup was airing 5 years ago when I was last here and futbol is understood by all. You didn’t need to speak the language to root on your team and just enjoy the game. 

Today on the longest day of the year north of the equator, the summer solstice, and first day of summer I realized another language understood internationally and that is yoga. Today marked the first international yoga day and we participated here in Beirut. Yogis all around the world understand the essence of yoga and no language barrier can stop the flow.

We all may not speak the same language and understand each other constantly.
But we all can share a smile and recognize happiness.
We can cheer on our team in futbol all together.

And we can all OM and flow together.

Monday, June 15, 2015

in this moment

Being across the world and not in my comfort zone has made me a bit wary at times. I feel incredibly lonely when sitting in a room full of people because of the language barrier. I notice myself sitting in silence and blankly staring into space. I’m realizing I am not in the present moment. I let my mind wander to other places and don’t focus on what is right in front of me. I think about what’s happening back at home, of the future, of the past, of everything but the now.

This trip is going to teach me a lot. It is going to show me things about myself that I have not noticed before. And more than anything it is going to help me grow more than ever.

I need to appreciate the moment I am in. Focus on the sounds around me. Focus on how I am feeling. The air that I am breathing in, the smells I am inhaling, and all that I am seeing.  Take everything at a slower pace instead of racing through to the next moment.

This past Saturday, I took in every moment and I never felt more present.

I went to Tyre Beach with its grainy soft sand, crystal turquoise water and cityscapes framing the sides. We planted ourselves underneath a tent. Ordered some waters, handed the bag of fresh fish to the waiter to cook for lunch and prepared ourselves for our swim.

We slowly walked towards the water with incredible anticipation. It was vibrant, pure and inviting. The color was intoxicating to look at with all of its shades of blue. As I stepped into the water a chill shocked through my feet all the way through my spine and instant goose bumps grew all over my body as I continued walking through. It was cold but I couldn’t help but keep marching forward, I felt a pull from the sea bringing me in.

And then the moment came where I could plunge myself into the Mediterranean Sea. I dove into the water and swam deeper into the blue. My eyes wide open under the water, I could see so clearly. I came up for air and let myself lay upon the water. I didn’t move and let the waves carry my body; I let the sea cradle me. I trusted nature. I knew no wave would be too big to knock me down and I looked up at the sky. I felt my arms and legs flow freely in the water and move with the movement of the sea. I let the sun beat down on my face and warm my body as the cold water cooled it. The sensation of temperatures and the movement of the water was so calming.  The sea was tranquil and the water cleansing. I swam deeper into the ocean with my eyes open. I came up for air and my eyes burned from the salt but I didn’t care. I felt the sea cleansing me internally and externally. My hair clung to the salt water and the dirt washed away. I felt my worries melt into the water. I felt the past, the future and everything but the now just dissolve into the sand. I was here in the sea swimming deep into the present. I came out of the sea purified. I took a huge inhale and then exhale. I am here, and I am happy.