Don’t say goodbye, say hello

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Sometimes, it makes me wonder why I meet certain people for only a very short period of time. It makes me question the purpose or the reason behind meeting that specific person or persons. Are they going to teach me a thing or two about life? Or are they just coming in passing to make me think about missed connections later in my life?

A few days ago, I met someone at the gym (sounds tacky, but trust me it’s not.) He asked me where I was from (which I guess is the easiest way to start a conversation with a stranger.) And that simple starter question led to another question that opened up a series of topics for a conversation so good that it didn’t matter even if it was happening between two strangers.

He told me he’s been living in Dubai for 17 years now, but he came back to Cairo for a short five days to be here for his dad who is having his bypass surgery the next day. Before he left the gym, I told him that I wish his dad well and that I hope he will be able to spend his last few days in Egypt with his family.

The next day, I got a message from him telling me that his dad didn’t make it.

This man is just a person I met randomly at a gym, yet I felt greatly affected. I don’t know him at all, but I found myself feeling sorry that his dad passed away.

I wanted to make him feel better, but I didn’t know what to say or what to do. He is going through something that I have never experienced before (and hopefully I won’t have to for decades and decades to come) which is why I find myself lost for words. I can imagine that nothing, not even a million sorry and condolences in the world, will be enough to make the pain of losing his dad go away.

Knowing what happened to this person made me reevaluate my relationship with my dad. It’s been a year and a half since I last saw my father. I used to be a daddy’s girl until whoknowswhathappened. I didn’t think that I was missing him until I met this person and heard what happened to his dad.

I am coming back home in September to see my dad. It will only be for three weeks, and I am sure it will not be enough to make up the year and a half that I didn’t see him. But I am hoping that this three weeks will be a good start to rekindle our father-daughter relationship that seemed to have gotten lost somewhere along the way.

Isn’t it interesting how we unnoticeably take for granted people and things, thinking that they will always be there, not realizing that one day, they will actually be gone? Maybe there is a part in our brains that does not want to recognize the fact that life ends.

How many times have we heard people say life goes on? Not one will have the courage to actually say that life ends. The truth can be ugly sometimes.

It’s sad when we exert an extra effort to make time worthwhile only after realizing that the days are numbered. Why do we have to wait until a deadline is set before we start realizing that this person is someone worth spending time with? Why do we take for granted the people or the things we have and then regret once it’s all gone?

I am still trying to find answers, and I hope that in finding the answers, there are no goodbyes but hellos.

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The Accidental Mom

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Back in my senior year in high school, it was quite a feat when a student drops out, or just disappears for a long period of time. Rumors started circulating around school that those girls (who miraculously managed to disappear out of thin air) got pregnant. Half of the time, it was really the case.

When I was in my senior year, the idea of becoming a mom is so strange that it gives me chills to the bones. I mean, seriously, how can a 17 year old girl take care of a baby when she is not even close to being a woman? At 17, I was just playing nintendo games if I wasn’t reading Harry Potter.

At 25, the idea of becoming a mom is just as strange as it was when I was in senior high. Most of my friends (the same age as I) are either getting married, or getting a baby. I see all their photos (on facebook, obviously) and it makes me wonder how they do it, or more exactly, it makes me question how the hell they decided to get married or get a baby. Either they have all gone crazy, or I have become a blip in social trend.

I’d like to think I’m the sensible one in this case.

Whenever I see photos of anyone I personally know with their husband or wife or their new-born baby and those tubby fingers and toes, it makes me feel bad. It makes me doubt my abilities. It makes me wonder why I am not in the same frame of mind as they are. Or am I just not wired to be a wife or mom material?

Then it starts hitting me. No matter how hard I try to deny it, at 25, I am still selfish and self-centered in a way that I would choose to venture and see the world than settle down, that I would rather dance salsa and go out on fun dates than get a boyfriend, that I’d choose to marvel in my career than think about starting a family, that I’d rather be the comfortable, free-spirited, single woman that I am than become a miserable or regretful wife.

I’d like to think that I just know better. I know that I’m not ready, I’m not responsible enough to be a mother, nor am I willing to let go of my free pass card just yet.

Today is a day unlike any other. I am at that point where I am finally putting all the puzzle pieces together, but as usual, life never fails to play pranks on me and decides to jumble my world 180 degrees around.

When I went to bed last night, I was pretty sure that it will be an ordinary day–which means I will wake up just like any other day, get dressed for work as usual, and open the showroom like I do everyday.

So, imagine waking up from an international call from Italy (at seven in the morning!) telling me the news that I have just been selected to become a mother for a day.

They have got to be kidding me, right? I would give anything to think that it was just a drunken call, but it wasn’t.

To avoid any confusion, allow me to explain the ‘situation’. When I moved to Cairo for my career, the company (a family-owned, furniture design business) that I am working with provided me with a flat which is literally one tumbling from the showroom where I work. My flat happened to be one of four flats in our 4-storey building where the CEOs of the company (who is my boss’ parents,) the trade consultant (my boss’ brother,) and the designer (my immediate boss,) and I all live together.

Just last week, my boss’ parents and his brother flew to China for a major furniture expo. Two days ago, my boss and his wife travelled to Italy to attend a tango festival. That leaves me the only adult (apart from the bawab, the household helps who come on a daily basis, and the nanny who comes to babysit my boss’ kids.)

So, imagine (and I’m already telling you that this requires a big, creative mind!) when I was told that my boss’ nanny just decided to quit her job, while the kids’ mom and dad, aunt and uncle, and grandparents are away!

I can’t even imagine how someone can do such a thing–abandon a 6 year old boy, and a 3 year old girl while everyone in their family are several thousand miles away.

I can hear very clearly the nervousness and tension in my boss’ voice as they told me what was happening. Thankfully, the kids’ grandparents and uncle and aunt are flying back to Cairo as I write this blog.

Nevertheless, BOOM! I have become the accidental mom just like that.

That was a lot to take, no one warned me I’ll be a mom even if it was meant to be just for a day. I wasn’t nervous being an accidental mom because I’ve known my boss’ kids for over a year now and they always come with us when we do company trips to Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh. I was more nervous for them being my accidental kids. I had no idea how to look after kids the way real moms do.

So, I rushed up to their flat after I hang up the phone. I was expecting to see two crying and screaming toddlers who probably have no idea that their nanny just fled away, instead, I found two little kids still asleep in bed.

There was a chart posted on the fridge door that says ‘March 31 kids pizza’.

How in the world do you make a kids pizza?

I stormed the fridge to look for anything that would make a healthy kid’s pizza. There were tuna, mushrooms, capers and bell peppers. Healthy.

The pizza was fresh out of the oven when Jem and Belle woke up, but guess what. They just totally ignored the ‘kids pizza’ I so laboriously prepared. Or heck, maybe they knew that that pizza wasn’t really as edible as I wanted it to be. I was starting to crack under pressure at this time. They have to eat something and it should be something that they would like. They told me what they wanted was pizza with only olives and cheddar cheese on it. Easy.

In fact, it was actually much easier since they helped me make the pizza the way they want it. We made a huge mess on the kitchen bench but it sure was a fun mess!

Luckily, my boss made things a lot easier for me, they sent me a detailed email about ideas of activities I can do with their kids.

  • Bake chocolate cake
  • Painting and coloring materials on the top shelf
  • Story reading
  • Play dough in the bottom left drawer in the play area
  • Play date with friends on Saturday, call 0122514xxxx so on and so forth.
  • Go watch a movie at City Stars
  • Take kids to Chili’s

Since the kitchen was already in a total mess, why not bake a cake? And so we did, they cracked the eggs, sift the flour, pour the milk, melted the butter, and whipped the batter. Needless to say, we all managed to cover ourselves with flour and egg whites! The chocolate cake turned out really well by the fact that I almost finished half of it!

Story reading was easy to do, thank heavens the books they have are not in Arabic! I immediately crossed out going to City Stars or Chili’s. I don’t think shopping centers are the best places for kids their age. And I know this by the fact that I get so annoyed whenever I see parents walking in a mall with their little mignons. Honestly, I think those parents can do much better parenting than taking their kids to a silly mall. Not to mention the least I would want is for one of the kids, if not both of them, to get lost or, worse, kidnapped. I thought their household help will already kill me for the messy kitchen and the stains in their clothes, so I had to cross out play dough and painting as well, not wanting for all the play dough or paint to leave permanent marks on the carpeted floor.

Since it was a Saturday, I decided to call the number they gave me and arrange a play date with the kids’ friends. I spent about an hour or so, telling the mom of their friends everything that just happened. It felt funny and weird at the same time, going to a stranger’s house for the first time. I guess it was even weirder for their friend’s mom (who I have never met before) to fathom the idea that someone can become an accidental one-day mom.

I thought these things only happen in movies!

I took ‘my’ accidental kids home at five this afternoon. I did a lot of bribery (not the qualities of a real mom.) If they want to watch one show of Scooby doo on tv, they have to finish their homework. They want to get a candy special? They have to have a bath and get dressed by themselves. They want to play hide and seek? They have to eat all their dinner up.

And whenever they do something really good that impresses me, like eating with their mouths on the bowl or not getting milk spilled on the floor, I give them two coins. By the way, I think at the age of three and six, they should be allowed to be chaotic and out of control. I must have been a monster mom in their eyes–a monster mom who lets them watch cartoons before bed, snack on junk food, and play tag.

Right now, it’s 8:39 and they are already fast asleep. Before I put them to bed, I read them two children stories and a bible story. We prayed after the story reading. I do not believe in religion but they told me that this is what their mom always does, and since I have already become their one day mom, I might as well play and act the part. So I tucked them into bed, and hugged them, and kissed them, and told them that I love them. I wished for them to have sweet dreams, and I couldn’t believe I was hearing myself telling them that the angels will be beside them tonight (it was just so not me.)

I guess I just did what I think real moms do, or at least I did my idea of what real moms do.

Like Cinderella (one of the bedtime stories I read them tonight) my accidental mom story will expire as soon as the clock strikes. Their grandparents will be here in a few hours and I will be back to being my old, boring, career-driven self. Tomorrow, I will wake up and know that it will just be an ordinary day. No pizza making, cake baking, or play dates, no bedtime stories to read. It also means no warm hugs and cute little fly kisses from two of probably the most adorable kids I’ve ever had the chance of being with.

What a learning experience. It sure made me realize that I suck at being a pretend mum, but hey, I was put on the spot and didn’t have nine months to prepare for it, let alone read books on successful parenting, or google how-to-be-an-awesome-mom! So, I guess I deserve a pat on the back after all!

And before I forget, I think skipping an 8-hour work shift to have a ball with the kids is not as bad as I thought.

Who needs a time machine when you know you lived well?

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Did you ever have that feeling back in primary school when you know you’ll be having a school trip to the zoo and time seems to be playing a brutal trick on you? You keep waiting for the next day to come. You close your eyes at eight in the evening wishing you’d be opening your eyes with the sun high up in the sky. You swear it felt like the longest time you’ve had your eyes closed, but guess what. You open your eyes and found only 10 minutes have passed, surprise!

That’s how it was for me when I was a kid. I couldn’t wait for the minutes or a few hours, or a couple of days to pass so I can go to my school trip, or at the circus, or at my cousins’ house already, and yet those minutes, or those few hours, and couple of days were the most agonizing because it felt like I was waiting for an entire eternity.

I couldn’t wait to grow up either. I remember when I was nine, I saw this 18 year old girl in school who looks so sophisticated, so responsible, and so put together. In my nine year old eyes, I told myself I want to be like her. I told myself that when I turn 18, I will be sophisticated, I will be responsible, I will be so put together. But it felt that the heavens must have frozen time because the days couldn’t go any slower. I would sleep the night before and wake up feeling disappointed that I was still my nine year old self.

Today is a different story though. I woke up convinced that time is playing April fool’s on me. No matter how I decided to stop aging after I celebrated my 23rd birthday a few years ago, there is no denying the fact that I will be turning 26. This year. In three months!

Someone tell me who pressed the super fast forward button!

Recently, I’m getting a lot of messages from old friends back in the university, from people I met randomly at the airport, even from strangers who read my blog. Most of them are people I met eight years ago, even more, and they are sending me messages telling me that I inspire them in a way or another. They all think that I am living it–that I have a zest for life and a great amount of passion to live.

Last night, I was having the same conversation with two of the first friends I met when I moved to Egypt, and we were recalling what we’ve gone through the last eight months that we haven’t gone out together.

The last time I saw Yehia, he was feeling so down and broken hearted and he was so convinced that he wouldn’t be able to move on from his broken relationship. No matter how Mo’taz and I tried to cheer him up and encourage him that things will get better, there was no changing his mind.

The last time I saw Mo’taz, he just shaved his head for a new look, or maybe out of depression from not being able to get back with his first love.

The last time they saw me, I was mending a barely breathing heart from my relationship with Hisham.

Yes, we were three broken hearted souls who got together one very sad night eight months ago. It’s funny how the reason that caused our misery a long time ago (or at least we thought it was misery at that time) is the same reason that made us laugh deliciously last night.

Eight months after, Yehia is now engaged and very happy! He’s become a totally different person. There is positivity radiating out of him. Mo’taz, on the other hand, has his hair grow back to a good length (thank heavens!) and his quick humor has just gotten sharper! As for me, I’m happy being single and actually loving it and meaning it this time around.

Funny how time really does make a difference in our lives. It changes us. It molds us to who we are today, yet it reminds us of who we were yesterday. Time is also a huge indicator of friendships we’ve made and trusts that we’ve earned. It heals whatever is left broken, yet it can also wither the finest building no matter how solid the foundation is.

I guess the reason behind my boldness and my hunger for living is also time. Once you realize you’re not getting any younger, you’ll start living as though the sand in the hourglass is running down the bottom. In my case, I really feel that the sand is going down fast, with my knees sinking deeper and deeper with every second.

Before the sand of time runs out, I want to be able to tell myself that I had a life that is ripe, and full–that I lived it well and did anything and everything that I want, that I lived on the safe side when required and crossed to the danger when I can, that I’ve gone on all out adventures without holding back, that I spent time, tons, with people I truly care about and who sincerely cares about me, that I’ve grown wiser and been able to share my knowledge, if not advice, to friends, that I inspired people without being aware of it, that I have touched and changed lives the way it will never be the same again, that I have kept friendships who made my time brighter, sweeter, even funnier!

I am still far from the sophisticated, responsible, so put together woman that I want to become, but I like to believe that I am getting there one grain of sand at a time.

It’s all fucked up, why make it complicated? And everything else that makes/breaks it

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I have a friend, let’s call him Tarek (not his real name.) The girl who told him she loves him recently just told him that she is now in a relationship with someone else.

Go figure.

I asked Tarek how his heart is (although we all know it’s the oxytocin hormone and pituitary gland in our brains that’s damn responsible for feeling love and other emotions.)

He said he’s ok. He said he likes the girl but it still hasn’t grown to love at that point.

I asked him if he was hurt when she told him the big news, and I was blown away with Tarek’s answer.

“I would have been hurt, but she made it so easy for me not to be hurt.”

Whistles and cheers! Way to go, Tarek!

I don’t know anything about the girl, but I find myself in deep thinking about the situation.

How is it possible to tell someone you love him and take it back the very next day?

Ok, maybe I can still deal with that, but what I refuse to deal with is someone telling a guy she loves him and then telling him without even a pause of a warning that she fell in love with someone else.

And to make things worse, that someone else is also another good friend of mine (at least I warned you that it’s all fucked up!)

Let’s call this other friend Samy (not his real name, of course!) I spoke to him recently about the messed up situation he is in. He started liking this girl and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. What is wrong about his feeling of liking is, perhaps, the timing.

I told Samy that there are a few possibilities in this situation (which now seems like a laboratory experiment to me.) It’s possible that this girl fell out of love with Tarek and is genuine about her feelings for Samy, or she is just using Samy to make Tarek jealous and make him realize her importance in Tarek’s life. It is also a possibility that she is using her past friendship with Tarek to make Samy think that she is quite a catch–that there are other guys who can easily be interested to her. I told Samy that whatever is the case, it is a chance that he will have to gamble.

The interesting part in this story, is that in all this fiasco, I find myself having the omniscient god power. I know what is going on between the two men involved, I know Tarek’s version of the story as equally as I do Samy’s version.

I am standing in a neutral line though. I am not siding with anyone, but I listen and voice my opinion when asked. I am just someone from the outside looking in and I have drawn out a couple conclusions of my own.

The first conclusion I have is that this girl is lucky–there are two equally amazing guys who like her sincerely. Second conclusion is that I would never want to be in her position no matter how lucky she is.

I can’t, in any way, imagine myself telling a guy I love him and then telling him the next day ‘oopsy daisy, I was just kidding!’

One reason I know I will never trade myself in that situation is because our actions display the kind of person we are. What does that make of you? What does your action say about you? That you are extremely confused? Fickle minded? You don’t know what you want?

Why would we want to be with someone who is confused, undecided, and fickle in the first place?

When I hear stories like this happening, my beliefs in love slowly turns into a disillusion. The once statement becomes a question. All of a sudden you start doubting the sincerity of romantic love, even when it’s coming from someone who owns a special spot in your heart. It is unfair to love because stories like Tarek’s and Samy’s strip love all the enchantment and the romance it deserves. And you are left wondering whether love has been transformed to just a game adults play.

‘Make him jealous, put him to a mortal combat arena with a street fighter. Whoever gets a knockout wins.’

I hate mind games.

I am not someone who will wait three days after the first date to call that person (that’s just some bullshit cheap movies taught men about dating.) I am not someone who will make the guy I like jealous so he can realize how awesome I am by putting in his face that there are other guys who would break an arm to be in his place (in the first place, why would you like someone who doesn’t think you’re awesome, or who will only realize you’re awesomeness once he knows you’re almost gone?) I am not someone who will lead you on to thinking that I like you if I don’t–that goes to saying I am not one who will trick you to thinking I don’t like you when, in fact, I do.

Girls shouldn’t be with terribly mediocre guys the way guys shouldn’t be with terribly mediocre girls.

Stories like this make it seem that we all have lost our minds. What happened to thinking before we act especially when it comes to people we supposedly care about? It seems that some people can easily blurt out that four-letter word without putting a single thought to it.

Come on, I confess to being emotional and romantic but even I think that gone are the days of love at first sight.

Love is something that needs nurturing. It doesn’t happen overnight. You cannot fall in love with someone without knowing who they really are, the way you cannot fall out of love with someone in a snap of a finger. It takes time, and sometimes, you need to give time some time!

It always fascinates me how some people seem to rush in love. If it is meant to last forever, why rush? Forever is such a long time that you’ll start getting bored of each other if
you are speeding 160mph on the highway to falling in love.

What’s wrong with enjoying the now? What is wrong with enjoying the friendship you have started with someone for the time being? What is wrong with taking your time to really getting to know that other person? What is wrong with slowing things down and taking little steps into appreciating the girl or the guy you might (not will!) potentially fall in love with. Emphasis on might!

It makes me roll my eyes when I hear some girls talk about how they just want to be with whichever guy and they are just so eager to put that ‘in a relationship with’ status on facebook after only a few weeks of going out. It makes me roll my eyes because I used to be one of those girls. I used to be one to rush into being labeled as ‘we’ or ‘us.’

If there is anything I learned out of my previous relationships (and I swear I am whole-heartedly thanking all my ex-boyfriends for this) it is that there is no short cut or express pass to love.

It’s funny how, now, when I hear my friends say they are really, madly in love with this person that they just started going out with, I can’t help myself but ask them if they’ve already smelt that person’s fart. They would all give me the same disgusted look. It never fails!

Well, I’m just saying, you can only truly love someone after you’ve seen (or, in this case, smelt) their ugly and still decide you want to be with that person.

Like I said, there are no shortcuts. There are no fast forward buttons. You wouldn’t want to jump to the last page of a book to find out how it will end because you know it will only spoil the gratifying experience of reading a story from start to finish.

You wouldn’t demand to get in a roller coaster ride if you plan on skipping the loops and the thrill of screaming your lungs out.

It’s a long, tedious process. There will be bumps and crossroads ahead. And who knows, at one point you and that other person might decide to go the same direction or take different routes. It might not grow into love, but if you take your time, you can be sure it will grow into friendship, and that friendship will exist even when you’re both heading to different ways. So come on, stop speeding your way to the destination when you can enjoy the getting lost and the getting there (wherever that maybe.)

A chopsuey of love

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How many times have your heart been broken? Once? Twice? Seven times? You’ve lost count? I think that no matter how frequent your heart gets broken, there is no getting used to it. It is like the curse of the ever-changing seasons. Every year, we know that winter is coming. We know that summer comes and goes. We expect this to happen, yet we always complain how miserable winter is, or how dismal the heat of summer can be.

In my case, I was left heartbroken three times. Three different guys, three different stories, three different endings, yet the feeling they left me were all the same–depressing, painful, dark, empty (I can even think of about 84 saddest adjectives that will describe how it felt.)

In all my previous relationships, I have always treated it as if it is going to be the last. Which is probably the reason why everytime the guy I love leaves me, it feels as though I am never going to fall in love again.

It’s silly what love can make to even the smartest person in the world. It drives us nuts to a degree where we can’t think rationally. We turn into childish brats, we go a little bit mental. All of a sudden the best advice we give to our friends just doesn’t work for us. In short, we just stop acting like ourselves.

When my first boyfriend left me, I cried to the point when I couldn’t cry anymore, it felt as if it was the lowest I could go, and I swore that I will never love again. I told myself that he was the only one I want to be with, that I would rather be alone if I won’t be with him. I felt like a dead person, everything was flavorless. I lost my appetite for anything. I didn’t feel alive and I thought that I will never be able to feel alive again. It felt as though there was no way I would get over it. I was hopeless. My life was just downright miserable and ugly and it was just impossible to move on.

What a sad, sad girl I had been. Now, the fascinating part is that two relationships with two different guys which is equivalent to two heartaches after, it still felt the same. You would think that after your heart gets broken the first time, you will learn from it and will be able to handle it much better should it happen again. Unfortunately, it’s not the case.

I don’t know about you, but I know (and I’m sure that most of my best friends will agree) that whenever I fall in love with someone, it feels as if I am falling in love for the very first time, which is why it makes sense that whenever someone breaks up with me, it feels as though I am dealing with a broken heart for the very first time.

What a vicious, deadly cycle. Like I said, there is really no getting used to it.

However, I cannot deny the fact that with every failed relationship, I learn something about myself, and, in a way, that lesson (or maybe experience?) changes me to a whole new different person.

After three heartaches, I know now, that life continues on, and that things will only get better. I know now that no matter how deep I am into drowning, I will recover; that no matter how I decided to put my life on hold for the rest of my life, the clock will still tick; that no matter how much I cry, or shout to the world that I will never be happy again or that I will never be able to move on, at one point or another, I will just get my happy back and find myself taking a big step forward.

Most probably, I will fall in love and get my heart broken again. Hell, I’m sure when that happens it will feel as if pain, and anger, and hurt are all new to me, but at least now I know that the pain, the anger, the hurt, no matter how much it stings, won’t stay forever.

I find it silly that I used to agree that love is sweeter the second time around. Whenever my heart is freshly burnt, I always have these thoughts that one day my ex-boyfriend will come back to me and tell me that the biggest mistake in his life was letting me go, and when that happens, I will take him back in my arms immediately and we will have the perfect ending to a perfect love story.

I find it so interesting that no matter how certain we are at one point, and how decided we are of what we want, everything can just change for one reason or another. I know that should any of my past loves try to catch up with my present, it is never going to work. There is a reason why it didn’t work out in the first place. No matter how much I loved them, the fact that they left me broken is enough to know that I will never want to spend my life with anyone who walked away from me and left me in a black hole. They can come to me begging on their knees, they can even kiss my feet and cry their hearts out. They can tell me that they realized how madly in love they are to me, but it won’t change a single thing.

The fact is, after every break up, I move on. I change, the bars are raised much higher. They can say they are in love with me but that won’t be true. Who they are in love with is their idea of me when I was with them. What they don’t realize is that that person died the moment they left, and a new me is born.

I’m not really sure where I am going with this, but what I want to say is that after every break up–after all the losing yourself, and the break downs, and the second guessing, and all the self doubts, you just start seeing things clearly. You start feeling alive again that you smile without having to force yourself to. You start seeing life and its beautiful colors with a different eye.

You come out strong. You realize how foolish you were and that is why you know much better now. All of a sudden, you know that what you want is not someone who will leave you but someone who will stay. Someone who will appreciate you for everything that you are and will love you for your totality.

We want someone who won’t turn us to monster girlfriends (or hitler boyfriends.) Someone who will make us feel good about ourselves, someone who will hold our hands tightly even when we start complaining about the changing weather.

Everyone deserves an epic love story. After all, no matter how much we deny it, we are all suckers for romantic comedy movies. We might as well be with a leading actor (or actress) who is perfect for the role!

On losing weight

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A lot of people asks me how I did it–how I lost so much weight. Well, there is really no tricks or magic here. It’s all hard work.

Most of my life, I’ve been overweight-borderline-obese. I’m short. With my 5’4″ height, I used to weigh a hefty 92 kilos–yes, I know that’s a lot.

I tried everything I could to lose weight. I would go on one fad diet to another. I tried going to the gym, cutting carbs out of my diet, I tried going vegetarian, then Pesco vegetarian, then I tried some weird soup diet, then fruit diet, basically anything I can find on google when I search for ‘how to lose weight.’ After a while though, I see no result happening and I would just feel heavily disappointed, thus, leading me to fall off the wagon.

The problem was that I kept wanting to see results as quickly as possible. I kept wanting my extremely excess weight to disappear like poof, magic, gone!

It takes a lot to understand that it doesn’t work that way.

I used to eat excessively to the point where I can finish two family size pizza, plus a tub of ice cream in one sitting. I binge on junk food and boy do I love McDonald’s. Chocolate and cakes were my best friends! And I didn’t think that anything was wrong with that. I honestly thought there is nothing wrong in eating whatever I desire. On top of that, I was a couch potato too, I spent hours and hours with my eyes glued on the tv screen, and I thought that it was ok too.

I think it was April last year when I found myself face to face with my weight issues. I just gotten sick of it and came to a decision that I wasn’t getting any younger. I need a 360 degree turn in my life.

The decision I made 11 months ago has finally paid off. Now, I weigh 55 kilos and I am very happy about my weight. I don’t plan on losing anymore, I just want to maintain it as it is.

So, how did I do it? Obviously, It didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of effort and hard work and a strong mind set.

It all started with me accepting the fact that I wasn’t healthy and that I was far away from looking healthy. When I started acknowledging this problem, I was able to do something about it.

I started going to the gym at least twice a week, for an hour and a half each session. I spend the first hour lifting 3-kilo weights and doing various squat positions since my arms and my legs are my problem areas. The last half an hour is spent on the thread mill.

Apart from going to the gym, I dance salsa three nights a week for at least three hours. That’s equivalent to nine hours of cardio every week.

I watch what I eat. I’m quite lucky that Egyptian cuisine offers a wide array of healthy options. Most of the food I eat are tomato based. I eat more spinach too. Whenever I eat meat, I make sure it’s lean. Another source of good protein is lentil which I can never get tired of.

I don’t drink beer. I drink fruit juices more. If I feel like having a soda, I go for coke zero or diet pepsi. I use skim milk all the time, and I get non fat yogurt from the shops every time.

It sounds like a serious diet, but really, it’s all about portions. I still eat ice cream every week. There’s always a non-fat ice cream sitting in my freezer! I still have chocolates, but it’s about consuming one bar of chocolates as opposed to six bars in one sitting.

And yes, I eat potato chips. Tell me one person who doesn’t eat junk food? But I have to say, instead of finishing a whole bag of chips in one go, I actually divide it into three portions.

I eat anything and everything that I want but in great moderation. Every now and then, I indulge myself to cheesecakes and cupcakes!

Now, about my lifestyle, I spend a lot of time swimming during summer months in Cairo. Whenever I am in Sydney, I run on a 6-km path every weekends. I do windsurfing and kitesurfing when I go on my holidays.

Keeping yourself active really makes a big difference.

The good thing about exercising is that you can do it without feeling as if you are torturing yourself. Do activities you love doing. In my case, salsa really helped me a lot.

Also, when you are trying to lose weight, you shouldn’t be feeling as if you are depriving yourself. I didn’t feel that I was depriving myself by any means because I’m still eating anything I want, the only difference is that I go for much healthier options and I watch the proportions.

I think everyone can feel beautiful no matter the size or the shape. Even when I was 92 kilos before, I still felt beautiful. But there is a fine line between a healthy weight and an unhealthy weight.

Right now, I am enjoying the benefits of being healthy. I can run on the thread mill for half an hour and still feel energetic. I can go 6 flight of stairs without heaving or feeling pain in my chest.

I feel much lighter and more comfortable, and shopping for clothes has become such a delightful experience! And actually, I feel much happier too with all the happy hormones I’m getting.

I don’t like it when people call me skinny because I’m not. I’m healthy, not skinny, but that’s a whole new subject that I will have to write about.

I support everyone who wants to keep a healthy weight. It will be a challenge but it is really doable. Set your goals and stick to it and find ways to make it easier and more fun by doing sports or anything active that you love doing or that you can be passionate about.

I guess, it is a gratifying feeling when you know that you have invested in yourself the way you never did before. We all deserve to have a healthy mind and healthy body, and put in mind that it’s never too late to start.

The lost lighter

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About a month ago, I have stowed away everything that reminds me of him–I deleted all his messages, all the pictures, even the littlest things on Facebook that would rehash the past. Gone. Locked far away, never to be seen again. Not that I want to forget, rather, it was a way to make things easier. I think I’ve already tortured myself long enough that I have gotten bored of it. Isn’t that what we all want after a break up? A clean slate to start fresh?

I did very well in making sure nothing–not a single thing will make me think about him, but I wasn’t careful.

A few days ago, I was walking to a kiosk to get my packet of cigarette when the wind just blew all over, leaving dusts swirling in the air. It felt as if the wind was playing a joke on me: “tuck your hands in your jacket now, or I’ll freeze you like hell!”

Well, what choice do I have? It was as though the wind knew something that I was just about to find out.

Sure enough, in my jacket pocket was the lighter I thought I lost some time ago. It was the lighter he left me the very last time we were together. It was the very lighter we used to light the very last cigarette we smoked together.

And just like that, boom! All the memories came pouring in and out of my head. Maybe it is the girl in me who still remembers–who always attaches memories and stories to ordinary, everyday things such as a lighter. It’s funny how mere looking at it can bring back old memories that I have securely locked away in the dungeons of never again.

However, with the coming back of memories comes revelations–revelations of how I used to feel, and how I now feel.

I used to hold on to that lighter as though it was the only lighter worthy to light up a cigarette. I remember how I wouldn’t smoke a cigarette if it wasn’t lit with his lighter. Or how the experience of smoking is just different if it was lit by another lighter.

That day that I found the lighter, I was still holding on to it, maybe just out of old time’s sake. I am sentimental that way.

But yesterday proved that I have let go of everything attached to it. I lost it for the second time, and surprisingly, it didn’t bother me like it did the first time.

I guess it was because for the first time, I was looking at his lighter as an object and not a subject with emotions and memories enveloped in it. I didn’t even think about finding it. I just simply borrowed one of my friends’ lighter and to my delight, it felt good.

Today, I bought a new lighter and it will be the first lighter that has me all over it. It wasn’t given by a lover or an ex-lover. It’s a clean slate. I know that it won’t take too long before I get attached to that new lighter. Soon enough, it will have to be the only lighter that will light up my cigarettes. It will stay in my purse whenever I go out, or in my jacket pocket should I go for a run. That lighter will collect new memories, and later it will remind me of places I’ve been to, things I did, and people I met and went out with.

I know I sound silly when I say that losing his lighter for the second time makes me feel like a newly born phoenix. I feel that I can look through the past without crumbling anymore. But what is more satisfying is that I can now anticipate tomorrow and allow myself to be pleasantly surprised with whatever tomorrow has to offer.

Who knows, maybe one day soon, I will find his lighter inside my boots, or under my bed covers. Who cares? What I do know is that I will be able to look at it as a lighter and nothing more.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I deserve a cigarette break. 🙂