Tightrope

Life is a lot like walking on a tightrope
Spread your arms apart 

As if you’re going to fly

Never look back or down

Keep your eyes on the sky

Watch your step, tread with hope

Your heart races at the thrill

Wind in your face, breathe the chill

They said you’d fall 

But look at you, you never will

Determination is your wing

Love is the song you yearn to sing

Keep your head high

Though their words could sting

Your dream is waiting on the other side

Gather your strength, it’s a few more steps

Pull yourself together, you don’t need help

Just brush your fears aside

Look up to the sky, don’t slip

Don’t stand on your toe tips 

You got to put your foot down 

Someday you’ll see who’s worth the ride

Almost there, that’s the end of the rope

Tell me, did you see what you hoped to find? 

No day is ever guaranteed

Good morning, Sunday!

I’m filled with gratitude to be alive on this beautiful yet rainy day. The rain instills a sense of comfort within my soul, somehow. It’s the fact that I’m living on this very day that I’d like to talk about. The fact that no day is ever guaranteed to us humankind, and yet we take each and every one for granted. Every breath, every ray of light that hits our retina as we sleepily open our eyes and snap out of our drowsy  daze. They are not ours for the taking, yet generously given away by the Creator of life; To test us, perhaps, to examine our gratitude further with daily pressures and mishaps; to remind us that, despite the illusion of control we feed with organizers, checklists and strict schedules, things can and will go off track, not necessarily to our disadvantage. It is our attitude that shouldn’t change with every endlessly changing day. The faith to accept the unseen. The gratitude to embrace each moment, painstricken or painsfree, and take the day with a smiling heart. 

Today is Sunday, make it worthwhile; spend it wisely, playfully, freely, generously, spend it with family, kids, friends, colleagues. Don’t let any gloomy weather discourage you from spotting colorful rainbows. 
Have a great day, everyone

~ Zeina

Beyond the Body: The Media Spin on Motherhood

Today’s Modern Mom is so different from yesterday’s. She’s an exuberant multi-tasker who can keep up with this age’s extremely fast pace, satisfying both her family and herself. She’s a competent career woman, skilled chef, meticulous housekeeper, affectionate nurse, Supernanny, agile yogi and fashionista. Her perfect life is just too good to be true. At least that’s what our subconscious mind is led to believe. Although this ideal mom exists only in the imagination of the marketing heads of famous global brands, her image of excellence has been promoted as the archetype of motherhood by the advertisers for many years now. This mom arouses our envy for all the energy she has to dress well and look polished while working in and outside the home. We covet her glowing complexion as we question the effectiveness of our own branded age-defying creams that aren’t doing the trick. She must have a nanny, a chauffeur and a personal trainer – we think – because all that daily stress from rushing through mornings, doing house chores, to preparing a hot family meal should surely show on her slender high-school-girlish figure. It’s exasperating to wonder what we’re doing wrong with our lives that we always look so worn out and feel miserable by the end of the day. You see this mom hanging out with friends, attending parties, and getting promoted. “Where does she find all the time and why can’t I be her?” a riled mother may ponder.

The media, which overly fixates on beauty, youth, and sexiness, is spinning motherhood against nature. It is no wonder that feelings of grudge would gradually sneak into a mom’s heart to the point of emotionally rejecting the noble, albeit confining, role of child-rearing. 

The Modern Mom is being shamed by every global female-targeted brand for her post-pregnancy body, dark-circles and grown-out hair roots. Every single commercial she sees on TV indirectly (though not unintentionally) mocks her rather scruffy looks, slowly guiding her to a more whimsical domain which, sadly, exists only in movies, drama series and ads. Yet she speculates on the chances of becoming like this or that star, graceful and polished, even while knowing they’ve got a team of make-up artists and image manipulation experts working behind the scenes.

To counter-market motherhood in “Real Moms with Real Bodies” campaigns is to simply limit a lifetime of love, devotion, and selfless sacrifice to a mom’s physique. A mother is more than just a body, she’s a soul. A soul that gives life…her life to other souls.

I’m not saying a mother should be allowed to neglect herself if she chooses to but it would be unfair to turn the focus away from her real mission to just her body and appearance. It is far more beneficial to market motherhood for what it really is, a journey of a passionate individual through the winding roads of parenting. A mom is not always in control of situations, she doesn’t always make the wisest choices, and she barely has time to eat a balanced breakfast, let alone make effort to look fabulous, before scurrying out the door.

Watching all these celebrity moms smile, strut and strike poses on TV and social media, a Modern Mom becomes certain that she can only attain success by owning a booming fashion enterprise and would only be seen beautiful if she hides behind layers of foundation. Then again, any woman, married or not, childless or not, must feel extremely intimated by the immaculate picture of beauty and youth portrayed in the media.

We don’t need to see a mom’s stretchmarks as a proof for conception. We know it’s terrible to watch one’s body age but there’s far more to motherhood than a sagging body and thinning hair. A mother is an amazing strong spirit, wrapped up in a fragile shell. I hope that someday the media would  truly honor her human side instead of compounding her insecurities. If we don’t owe that much respect to the woman who endures the hardest pain to welcome a child into this world, then to whom should we?

 

Why Lebanon is no longer “Home”

A homeland could be one’s birthplace or where one’s roots have been put down. It could also be the place where one’s ancestors have settled for centuries. Homeland is a place of safety, warmth and prosperity. A place to start a family, raise children or establish thriving businesses. A homeland is a place of service through good citizenship; where one serves the country, the community or the neighborhood. A homeland holds a place for hope; a hope for a better future generations to follow.
Now enough with the definitions. Let’s look at this homeland we call Lebanon. So we were born here, raised here, some of us probably immigrated during the late 1970’s, 1980’s, early 1990’s or after 2005 because wars, assassinations and bombings just never seem to end here, do they? Maybe some of the Lebanese didn’t leave, not because they’re patriotic or anything but because they never got the chance to experience the expatriate life. Maybe some never left because they truly believed this country had something to offer besides all the misery. They had hope that one day the pre-civil war Lebanon would somehow be resurrected, tourists would be flooding again, news reports and documentaries about Lebanon’s magical beauty and hospitality would be aired on global TV networks, tabbouleh, kibbeh and hummus would be iconic dishes on every menu of every restaurant on the planet, confidence in our banking and economic system would be regained, and faith in a united Lebanon would be restored.

I was one of those believers. Those six years of my life spent in the Gulf have strengthened this faith as I longed for my family, friends, bustling streets, and stormy winters. I could never feel at home as an expatriate no matter how hard I tried. I would never buy a home there or make any long-term investments for my children. Eventually I’d be back, I said. Sooner than later, I’d be back “home” again. My circumstances speeded up my return. I knew things would never be easy as I found myself forced to take care of two children on my own. But that was ok, I’d be “home” at least, I said. I knew every street like the palm of my hand. I could finally communicate with people who spoke my dialect without having to talk awkwardly or mispronounce words. I’d re-establish my old friendships and realize old dreams. Or so I thought.

The reality of this fragmented aching country slapped me in the face. Although I’d felt all those changes every time I’d visit during the summer or winter breaks, living those changes day by day is some sort of torture. The kind of torture you’d never think someone who always believed in Lebanon so much she practically had to live on anti-depressants and anti-spasmodic medications while she lived away would ever deserve. Yes, I believed Lebanon would heal, just like I would when I’d come back. Although I’ve pretty much adjusted to the low living standards, just like everyone else, Lebanon didn’t get any better. It just kept getting worse and worse. The situation can be very much summed up in one word that describes yet another unaddressed crisis on the government’s long list of shortcomings….zbeleh (garbage). Trash, garbage, rubbish whatever you want to name it, that’s what you’ll find on our streets, that’s what you’ll also find in our media, our economy, government, parliament, departments, systems. We are literally DROWNING in trash like never before. As our filthy curbs keep piling up with trash bags and waste products, intense feelings of frustration and rage are piling up inside our hearts. We, the people, are simply fed up. FED UP with power cuts, political conflicts, sectarianism, judicial fails, procrastinations, neglect, empty promises, lies, just fed up with everything in this country basically.

Calling Lebanon a country would only be just if it was headed by a President and had fair elections, if the whole sectarian system was annihilated and all deputies, ministers and people in power were held accountable for all the fraud and depravity that’s been plaguing every single square meter of this land. The people are just fed up with the low security level and the alarmingly high crime rate. How can “home” be so unsafe, so unbearable? I honestly never had more regrets in my life than I have today for not staying abroad longer. What on earth was I thinking?! Now you might say I’m the ungrateful child who only likes an air-conditioned home stocked with good healthy food and powered by 24-hour electricity. But what if I told you that it’s my RIGHT to receive such facilities and I would be underprivileged if I’m denied any of these services? What if I told you that with the insanely high electricity, phone, water and service bills, I’m entitled to living a comfortable life? But would I ever live comfortably if I keep wishing for change and not being a part of it? Not likely.

I’d like to think news about Lebanon’s revival would make international headlines one day. And I’d really like to believe in Lebanon like I always have. But unless the roots of corruption are eradicated, no project that would bring peace and happiness to this land would ever see the light.

I’d like to think of Lebanon as my homeland again, as right now it’s only my birthplace. What I’d really like most of all is for this birthplace to offer me a dignified and peaceful death if it insists on denying me a dignified and peaceful life.