Wednesday, September 28, 2016

traveling makes you feel small in the best kind of way

When traveling you realize how small you really are. The world out there is gigantic and sometimes we forget when we are caught in our routine in our own city. We have a tendency to forget the magnitude of the world that is out there ready for us to explore.
I strolled through the busiest metropolitan streets of Beirut alone; taking in the graffiti walls, the architecture of the buildings that have been able to withstand destruction, the local shops selling the brightest colored groceries, and the sounds of an active city.
I sat outside at local coffee shops, peering at the commuters in a rush to get to their destination. What a multicultural street I had the luxury of sitting at, with so much diversity, and people speaking in Arabic, French and English fluently.  The streets were always packed with locals, tourists, students, cars, scooters and motorcycles. Beirut is always alive and vigorous.
I was lucky enough to make two separate trips up the mountains this past weekend. As we drove up the curvy narrow streets, the view as we elevated became grander and greener. Stacks of mountains with the sea at the horizon was the view I got for hours as we continued to the very top. The air became chillier and cleaner as we continued up.
From roaming the busy streets of a city I do not live in, to standing at the foot of a massive cedar forest, I realized how very small I truly felt. As my feet were planted into the ground, I inhaled the cleanest air provided by these cedar trees, I peered up at the sun shining through the canopies, I then fully understood.
I am exactly where I need to be and I am experiencing exactly what I am meant to experience. We may be small, and the world may be larger than we can comprehend but life will take us to the exact places we are meant to see.
As I placed my hand on a tree that has seen countless sunrises, sunsets, war and love; I knew I was on the right path.

Monday, September 19, 2016

every moment can be celebrated

How is Lebanon?

Lebanon is delicious !!!
A country that has by far the most astonishing cuisine, with their robust aromas and hearty flavors. The food uses everything the land provides in the season. They never lack seasonings, herbs or flavor. 
Every meal is satisfying and fulfilling. 
And each meal follows yet another meal.
Once the meal is over, then the fruit, tea and coffee portion of the day begins. Afterwards is dessert. Food here is a constant parade. Meals are a party and a celebration of life.
The days are scheduled around the feasting times.
Lunch is typically the biggest meal of the day.
There is never one dish. It is always magnitudes of plates, and bowls filled with fresh vegetables, sauces, seasonings, herbs and more.
No meal is simple.
Every meal is a compilation of tastes. Sweet, savory, bitter, and salty to create the most incredible sensations in your mouth and in your stomach.
The colors are bright and vibrant. The aromas flood the homes and the gardens. And the taste, oh the taste is incomparable to any cuisine.
Everything is a celebration.
When it comes to arriving in the country where the entire plane applauds as you land.
When it comes to seeing a family member fly from the states to see you.
When it comes to your soccer team winning the game.
Every single moment in Lebanon is appreciated and celebrated.
Meals are treasured occurrences, with love put into the preparation for the grinning faces that surround the table.
The Lebanese love to feed and love to share.
When it comes to food and when it comes to moments spent together, the Lebanese enjoy the experience with each other.
As the plane ascended into Beirut and touched the ground, the entire plane applauded and cheered.  No arrival into a country is received with an applause, only in Lebanon have I witnessed this endless times.
The Lebanese know war, and they know sadness. So when positive moments happen they cant help but be happy and grateful.
They appreciate all the moments.
It is through the moments of sadness that we can overcome and focus on the greater moments of love.
Take the time to appreciate meals together surrounded by loved ones.
Because every meal is a celebration of life.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

taking time to stop & smell the roses

Now that the jetlag has worn off and my belly is full of hummus, I can share with you what has happened thus far.
I have been journaling more than ever, feeling so connected to my words and myself. Floating through each day, allowing what is meant to happen to happen. I feel myself drifting instead of going against the current. Allowing this trip to happen instead of forcing what I want to see or do. I came with the expectation of growth and that was it. I truly didn’t expect to feel this revitalized. 
When traveling your daily routine is destroyed and instead you must allow yourself to adapt to those around you and how they live. Because isn’t traveling all about learning of other cultures and seeing how people live through their eyes.
I could have never fathomed this trip would clear my mind so much. I have made it back to the capital of Lebanon after traveling for the past week to my dad’s village by the sea, then to my mom’s village up in the mountains. Wi-Fi is limited in the villages; which allows people to connect with each other instead of being submerged in the social media world.  We truly do not realize the amount of time we spend stuck looking on our phones and focusing on other people’s lives. Life is happening all around us and we need to look around and experience it.  
Water and I have always been connected. I find myself reborn in certain bodies of water, emerging from them feeling brand new. The Mediterranean Sea crystal clear in color when you submerge into it and multiple shades of turquoise when you view upon the horizon has always been one of my favorite bodies of water. Etched into the sand on the bottom are designs created by the waves and currents, as if the sea was creating art for the fish. I swam past the buoys and all the other beach inhabitants. I wanted to be out in the open water alone. I looked back at the shore and viewed the beautiful old city of Sour in its luster under the sunshine.
Floating effortlessly from the mass amounts of salt, I let my body become one with the water. Releasing my legs, arms, and neck and allowing my entire body to just float. I felt a wave of calm come over me knowing that I am exactly where I am meant to be. I felt safe as the sea cradled me, swaying me side to side. Squinting up at the sun with salt stinging my eyes, I could not feel the pain or the exhaustion from paddling so far out into the open water. I felt a sense that I was experiencing exactly what I was meant to experience.
Emerging myself not only in salt water but also into the Lebanese culture and the past of both of my parents. I went to my mother’s village up in the mountains with her cousins and her aunts. I learned of the lady my mother was as a girl growing up and how different she was from the rest. It gave me confirmation to know I am her daughter through and through.  Her family lit up when they saw me and embraced me. The glisten in their eyes was for my mother, they see me as a younger version of her.
There are people you are meant to meet. Regardless of any language barrier you are meant to connect with. A universal language exists that goes beyond language obstacles. It includes emotions based on love and care. It includes laughs and smiles and finding mutual interests.
An unspoken universal language that allows people from two different countries to understand each other entirely just with an eye gaze and a connection. So regardless if people I meet speak my language, if there is a connection beyond words we will be able to communicate.
Whenever I travel I try to always look up at the stars from wherever I am in the world. Looking up at the same galaxy of stars from different continents to be reminded we are all under the same universal sky. The shine of the stars and the glow of the moon can be seen from wherever you are.
You just have to take the time to look up and see the moon radiating and all the sparkles in the dark night sky.
We never take the time to stop and smell the flowers. Since being here, I stop to gaze at the array of flowers and to appreciate the beauty this country has to offer. I walk in the gardens to see the trees and the magnitude of fruit they produce, the herbs that take over all empty spaces of land and how the land produces meals and snacks. In car rides I look out at the landscapes we drive by. The views change from banana crops, to seaside and to cityscape.  
In life you need to take time to stop and admire what is around you. Take a breath in and realize how incredible the world is around us.
Even if you are not traveling, appreciate the little things.
Take the time to look up at the night sky. Appreciate how the moon glistens to the earth every evening.
Take the time to swim out into the open water and become one with the water as you float a top squinting up at the sunshine.
Take the time to appreciate the people around you.
Just take time to breath in the world around you in the present moment.
We have a tendency to take it for granted because we are studying our phones and living through social media photos.

Take the time to disconnect and to smell the roses.

Monday, September 5, 2016

following my intuition across the world

I have been following my gut feeling a lot lately. But it took me ignoring it so many times to realize I was in the completely wrong place, I was unhappy and unsure of the person I saw in the mirror reflected back at me. Your gut gives you small signs, synchronicities in life, and pushes from the outside world to show you the next step. If you ignore it, you might find yourself completely lost and miserable.
Since trusting my gut fully, I have been nothing but constantly happy. I feel like I am finally being true to myself.  By no longer pretending to be someone I am not, I have dove head first into my truest form. I am told that my face is glowing and that I am radiating by all my close friends, and I wake up every single day so happy and excited for what it is to come.

All of this was possible by following my intuition & seeing where it takes me.

Last year I felt incredibly disconnected from myself. Unhappy and uncertain of every move I was making in life. I felt this pull deep within me. It was this fire in my gut telling me to return to my homeland. With ease I found an internship there and asked my mom to join me across the world.
It was one of the greatest adventures I have gone on. My mother and I grew closer than ever before. And together we explored our country, eating our way through most of it.
I feel that pull again, deep within me letting me know its time once again to return, but for this time to be a solo adventure. I need to break out of my routine, and step out of my comfort zone. I have been talking about it for months as if it was going to happen regardless of purchasing my ticket yet. I believed that the more I talk about a dream, the more real it becomes. When I finally went to purchase the ticket, it was the cheapest it had ever been. The signs were informing me that there is no reason to not go. This would be a journey to immerge myself in my culture and in the Mediterranean Sea. To be inspired and taught by the people, the country and the spirit of the Middle East.This gut feeling doesn’t just happen. This feeling is supposed to be followed because there is a plan for me, a plan that will allow me to flourish and grow.

This is a journey of freedom and to fall in love with myself in my purest form. For the next two months as I adventure alone, I have to decided to not wear any makeup. I want to allow my face to shine from within without the assistance of makeup. I want to fall in love with all my imperfections and flaws. I don’t want to cover up my face or who I am. It wont be easy, but it’s all part of the process.
So here I go, following my intuition on a two month adventure to the Middle East. I will be going to Lebanon and Dubai, and documenting the entire adventure.

Listen to your gut. It may make you the happiest you have ever been before.