The Heart that Cried: “Love!”

Do you remember the fable “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” that we read as kids? It’s the story of the mischievous shepherd boy who was so bored with his mundane life that he decided to play a mean little game with people of his village. He would cry at the top of his lungs: “Wolf! wolf!” so that the villagers would leave what they were doing and give him some attention. He did it twice, thrice and maybe even more, and everytime the villagers would fall for his prank and reprimand him for his behavior. Eventually, when the boy encountered a real wolf that attacked his flock of sheep, he cried: “Wolf! wolf!” but the villagers were fed up with his lies and never came to his rescue. The boy had to watch the hungry growling wolf devour his sheep one by one and learned the value of telling the truth.

As I was rereading this story to my son, in the hopes that he, too, would learn that lying gets you into trouble, I remembered all the times I believed all the different kinds of calls I heard in my life. This inspired me to rewrite this short story, from vicarious and collective experience. This time the Heart is the main character, the villagers are replaced with a man/woman who lives in a modern world, and the wolf is, obviously, Love.

The Heart that Cried: “Love!”

A Very Short Story for Adults

Once upon a time, there was a woman who had a very pesky, fickle Heart. One day, Heart felt very bored and went searching for excitement. It found a handsome man who looked like a gentleman, but was actually more of a player. Heart didn’t mind, it started beating hard and cried: “Love! Love!” The woman was startled at the sound of Heart and looked around to check what Heart had found. She locked eyes with the handsome man and thought that Heart was right. She thought she had found Love, too. Heart chuckled secretly at her naiivity. A few months later, the woman realized that Heart was only pranking her.

The man was a self-centered Narcissist who kept playing mind games with her. It took the woman’s wounds a long time to heal, and she was practically scarred for life until…Heart decided to play the same game again, just for the fun of it.

Heart spotted another man a while later and cried: “Love! Love!” A little skeptical, but nevertheless ready to answer the call, the woman looked around and found another man who seemed, at first sight, like the man of her dreams. Alas, she had fallen again. This time, the woman vowed that that would be the last time she would ever believe Heart’s calls.

One day, Heart had a very strange feeling that it hadn’t felt before. It was pounding fast, but it didn’t feel uncomfortable. It felt like it was being dragged by some mysterious force towards a being that seemed all too familiar. Heart looked around and found another heart that looked just like it. It was thrilled to finally find a mate that would end its years of solitude. She gasped and whispered: “This is it, that’s true Love!” Then she cried to the woman, “Love! Love! This is Love!” The woman heard the cries but wasn’t moved. She wasn’t shaken by Heart’s cries this time. She thought that Heart was lying again and she was too tired of disappointments. But Heart kept screaming: “Love! Love! This is love, woman! Listen to me!” The woman was so bothered by Heart’s escalating shrieks so she decided it was time to shut down Heart once and for all. Heart sensed the woman’s deep pain, and whimpered: “I know, I know…how would you believe me now after everything I’ve done to you? I’m so sorry.” Tears fell down Heart’s face as it said, “I promise you that I’ll never, ever cry ‘Love’ again.”

Heart and the man’s heart parted sadly and silently, wishing each other well. The man caught a glimpse of the woman who never raised her head to look around. There was something attractive about her, and he had a fleeting urge to approach her. But he soon dismissed that feeling. His Heart had been a liar quite often, too. Perhaps hearts were not made to be trusted, he thought, as he crossed the street and went on his way.


How to write a suicide letter

Have you got your pen and paper ready? Your take-your-own-life device? Wait, you haven’t planned how you were going to do it yet? Ok, never mind. Let’s just write the letter. 

Dear —- (that’s gonna be the first loved one to find out you why you did such an major act, so they’ve got to be special)

Explain your terrible state prior to the act. Use words such as tired, fed up, exhausted, worn out, beat up. Don’t be afraid to use exaggerations and hyperboles, afterall you need to make it seem logical. They won’t believe you had been in such a terrible state all along or that you’d actually do it but you have to convince them. 

Now start reminding that person of all the amazing things they had done for you and how utterly ungrateful you are for turning your back on them. Tell them you have reached a point where your reasoning has failed you; where you were so depressed and lonely that nothing and no one even mattered. Not your parents, nor your siblings nor your spouse and children, if any. All you could think of was a way out. Even if that way defied your own destiny. You couldn’t fight anymore. You didn’t want to hold on to any more hopes. Nothing and no one gave you hope. You had eyes that could see but you didn’t want to look out for the light. You had hands that could hold but you didn’t want to reach out for help. You wanted to stay where you are. You chose desperation. Yes, you chose it. Desperation didn’t choose you. You decided to curl into fetal position and cry. You shut the world out. You turned your back on life. All you could see where the thorns on the rose, the greyish skies where rainbows hide.   You may tell them you’re a failure,  not for the many times you failed, but actually for failing to find the will to try within you. 

And just before you think I’m judging you for your suicidal thoughts, I just want you to know that I, too, have had them. We all have them. Yes, we’ve all been so low that we could no longer bear life’s afflictions. Everybody is prone to depression, anxiety, mental illness. You’re not a weirdo and you’re certainly not alone in this. The only difference between someone who acts upon these thoughts and someone who refrains from cutting their own rope is how hopeful they remain. The despaired aren’t weak. You aren’t weak for seeking help. You aren’t weak if you cry. You aren’t weak if you’re burnt out, broke, jobless, divorced, betrayed. You are stronger and more free when you understand the wisdom behind your affliction. 

I don’t know what would make you want to read a “how to write a suicide letter”. I don’t know why I’m putting myself in this position where I might be misunderstood. But I’m writing this for somebody, anybody who needs to read this, to know they’re so loved and cherished. You need to know you are an indispensible person in someone’s life. You mean the world to somebody and it’s not up to you to decide to leave them. No. Your time has not come and don’t ever think that by taking the nearest exit you’ll rid yourself of heartache. Don’t ever think that by writing a suicide letter you’d justify yourself to your loved ones. 

Don’t think that by escaping your brokeness you wouldn’t break someone else’s life. 
*To someone I love, someone I don’t even know, hang in there

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



M is for every “Moment” you cherished for me

O is for every “Obligation” you fulfilled with glee

T is for the “Time” you spent ensuring I’m happy

H is for the “Home” you built on love and mercy

E is for all the “Efforts” I can’t thank you for enough

R is for the “Responsibility” you have taken with love

MOTHER you’re a gift sent from Heaven Above

He’s Just A Child

This is an old poem I wrote when my child was around 2 years old… a little before we learned he had Autism. In his defense, he’s one awesome child, tantrums and all. He’s my child and I’ll never change a thing about him. If he hadn’t been the way he is, I would have never known how strong and capable I am to raise a child with behavior or communication challenges.



He’s Just a Child

With all the burdens I carry on my shoulders everyday

With all the worry and guilt, someone stops me to say

“How did your child turn out to be this way?”

I stare blankly as images in my mind start to play

I’ve held him in my womb and nourished him with care

I’ve watched over him day and night, I was always there

I gave him all my time, how dare you give me that glare?

I threw away all what used to matter, to me that’s just fair

For him I’d give my life, do you know what he means to me?

He’s the light in my eyes, the first fruit that grew on my tree

I don’t need to justify why he’s just a child


If I give him some space, people say I’m loose

They’d say I’m too strict if I lay down some rules

Sometimes I catch myself doing things I don’t choose

And eventually I end up regretful or confused

And as the tears roll down my cheek

They say I shouldn’t grow weak

Assertion is the key to tough situations

Do what’s good for him, be stern yet cool, be firm yet gentle

Oh please Lord, make them stop, that’s TOO much to handle!

He’s not a horse you can tame, he’s just a child



If a child hits, who do you think is to blame?

People think, “his mother ought to be ashamed”

If a child says something odd, some peculiar word

People think “it’s from his mother he must’ve heard”

His mother is bad, his mother is good,

His mother isn’t doing what she should

People love to reprimand, they can’t understand

The pains of motherhood

That only a weary mother would

Don’t judge a mother

If her million ways of loving don’t match yours

Parenting is not a competition or for keeping scores

You can’t love other people’s children more

Than their own parents ever could

~ Zeina




Balluza: A dessert and a memory

Today I decided to try out a recipe that I’ve been meaning to make for over 6 years since I discovered it in one of mom’s Arabic cookbooks. I wonder why I waited that long to finally give in to a sugar and dairy craving. This rarely happens, but I guess I was intimidated by the number of dirty pots and pans that will be piled up when the masterpiece is done. One would hardly call a pudding a masterpiece, but who wouldn’t admire the contrast of white creaminess and bright orange “syrupiness” layered beautifully in an elegant glass serving cup?
The Balluza is a classic mhalabiyé (mahalabiyah, sweet milk pudding) dessert with an additional layer of orange juice thickened with cornstarch over heat. I’ve read that this sweet has Syrian roots but I remember my grandmother (who was purely Lebanese) and aunt making it for many years. I also remember my grandma’s open fridge (and cupboard and drawer) policy and how comforting her food was. I wanted to revive some of my childhood and adolescence memories of grandma today through this walk down culinary Memory Lane. I must admit that I will never come close to her talent. She, like many women of her time, was illiterate and couldn’t decipher a single letter of any cookbook you might hand her, yet her skill was matchless. Her love for the kitchen could be felt in every bite and sip. 

Grandma was the barakah (blessing) of the family, the soul that united us all, first and second and third generations, every Saturday over breakfast and every Eid (holiday) feast. When we lost her 12 years ago, little did we know that we had lost more than just a remarkable pious kind old woman. We had lost the very heart of the family. I’ve missed her wisdom, serenity and patience. I’ve missed her touching bedtime stories, her humor and giggles. I’ve missed her delicious extra-large kibbé (fried meat and bulgur balls stuffed with minced meat), the largest I’ve ever seen yet. I’ve missed the way she used to call my name and how she would take my side when mom and I quarrel. She loved her grandchildren very dearly and took pride in their achievements. She died a happy woman, I’m sure. She had all of her daughters and son by her side when she took her last breath. In days like these, you’re very lucky if you’re Lebanese and all your children live in this country with their children. It’s very unlikely that I’ll live to 87 like granny, but I do wish to die her peaceful death having lived a fulfilling peaceful life, such as hers. 

Going back to the balluza recipe, you might want to give it a try too. You could start off with a regular rice pudding instead of a milk pudding. It’s totally up to your preference. I garnished my set pudding with ground pistachios and sliced almonds. 
Here are the ingredients: 
For the mhalabiyé (milk pudding):


4 cups whole milk

3 TBSP cornstarch

1 cup sugar

1 tsp orange blossom water

1 tsp rose water

For the orange layer:


3 cups orange juice

3 TBSP cornstarch

1/2 cup sugar



Mix 1 cup milk with 3 TBSP cornstarch, add to rest of milk and bring pot to boil over medium-low. Add sugar. Continue to whisk throughout cooking time. When milk thickens, add rose and orange blossom waters. Pour pudding into serving bowls or glasses, filling only half-way through. 

2- As the milk pudding cools, prepare the orange syrup by adding 3 TBSP of cornstarch to 3 cups of freshly squeezed orange juice. Add sugar and whisk thoroughly until mixture thickens as it comes to a boil. 

3- Pour orange syrup over mhalabiyé and place all bowls in fridge till they set.

4- Serve garnished with ground pistachios or chopped almonds, if you prefer. 

I hope you make this comforting, tangy/creamy dessert soon. Let me know if you do and if you have any pudding recipes you’d like to share in the comments below. 
Have a warm evening, everyone!

What is Regret?

Regret … is the words 

You can’t take back after they’re said

Regret … is the aftermath

Of a rush of blood to the head

Regret … is all the chances

You didn’t dare to take

Regret … is all the decisions

You were too afraid to make

Regret … is the price you pay

For all your thoughtless mistakes

Regret … is how I feel

Everytime I hear your name

Regret …. is my consciousness regained

And facing your truth again

Regret …so intense it feels like a heartattack

Regret …. is all the tears

That won’t bring my love back

Flourless Banana (Oatmeal) Muffins and One-pot Whole Wheat Penne with Spinach & Sundried Tomato

Hi everyone,
I woke up in the mood for overnight oats (except I hadn’t prepared any the night before 😔). So I decided to go for a smoothie but I knew my appetite was too big for a liquid breakfast. What to do, Zeina…what to do? Alright, we’ll go for muffins, then. Those overripe bananas needed some loving. I did a bit of Pinterest browsing and found a recipe that was perfect for satisfying my earlier craving for oatmeal and could be whipped up in the blender in a flash. I honestly can’t remember the source because I didn’t pin the recipe and there were tons of similar recipes on the results page. I don’t how I remembered some of the ingredients of this particular one by heart. Yes, this recipe was destined for my belly! I had some peanut butter chips in my panty that I felt like adding. Don’t judge me, but bananas without peanut butter is like donuts without glazing (or whatever that means – well, you get the point!!)
Alright, without further a due, here are the ingredients of the flourless banana muffins:

Flourless Banana Oatmeal Muffins

2 1/2 C rolled or quick-cooking oats
2 ripe bananas cut into large chunks
1 C low or non-fat greek yogurt (fat-free laban will do)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 C sugar (white, brown or any other sweetener – 1/4 C honey if using)
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 C chocolate chips or Reese’s peanut butter chips (whichever you prefer, I used pb chips)

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until oats are finely ground then pour the mix into a lined 12-cup muffin tin, or 12 silicone muffin cups and bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 15-20 mins (check for doneness using a toothpick)

The resulting muffins will be gooey and moist, and their sweetness will be just right. Let me know if you’re gonna try the recipe and comment below if you’d like to share your own tested and true banana muffin recipes…I’m simply bananas about bananas 😁

One-pot Whole Wheat Penne with Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Did anyone say ONE POT?!! Yes, please! I mean, who likes piled-up dishes in their sinks? Well, NOT me. Pinterest one-pot dinners are all the rage these days, I’ve actually tried a couple of dishes so far and they turned out pretty amazing. As I’ve read that the founder of such an easy yet versatile cooking method is Martha Stewart. So THAT’s the secret behind its elegance! The method is pretty simple. You add the uncooked pasta to a simmering broth or other liquid in the pot instead of boiling it in a separate one, add in a few vegetables, tomato puree or milk/heavy cream for a richer pasta dish, whatever works for you.
I had some frozen spinach and a jar of sundried tomatoes in my fridge so the idea of a pasta lunch seemed so appealing to me, especially that my little girl really loves pasta.

The recipe I found was a little different than mine but feel free to check out the original at this link:

My adaptation always has to be healthier (with all those peanut butter chips I devoured this morning!! LOL – lighter was a MUST) I used low-fat milk, and a little light butter. I’m also not a big fan of chicken stock cubes and didn’t have fresh-made chicken broth, I used water instead and lots of seasoning to compensate for any flavor lost without broth.

Here’s the recipe: (Serves 2)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 C low-fat milk
1 C chicken broth
Uncooked whole wheat penne
1 Tbsp light butter
1/2 C parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp cream cheese (room temperature)
2 Tbsp sliced sun-dried tomatoes, drained from oil if they’re preserved in it
1/2 C frozen or fresh spinach
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in pan, add minced garlic and sautée for a minute. Add milk, broth, and pasta, bring to a boil and cover pot until pasta is cooked for 15 minutes. Add the cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach until welted. Sprinkle some salt and pepper to taste. Serve dish immediately.

What are your favorite pasta dishes? And how would you “healthify” them so you won’t feel guilty about pasta cravings? (not that I’m judging you if you don’t, pastas should make a separate and albeit necessary food group, if you ask me!) Let me know in the comments below.

Have a great healthy evening, everybody ☺️

DISCLAIMER: I don’t claim to be a health expert or nutritionist, nor am I food blogger, per se. A friend of mine suggested that I add a section to my blog covering my healthier recipes whose pictures I share on my Instagram and Facebook accounts. I’ve recently become health-conscious and that’s a road not so easy to stay on track of. By sharing my recipes and resolutions I’m holding myself accountable in front of you to stick to my healthy living goals. I do not intend by any means to offend anyone. I’m doing this because I care about my family’s health and wellness and mine first and I’m only here to help. I’m all about loving your body and yourself, so whatever makes you feel comfortable, whether you’re a huge foodie or not, is awesome ☺️




The Gift of Friendship

Today was my best friend’s birthday. It has been over 10 days that I hadn’t heard anything from her. She was completely out of reach due to some personal reasons. She sent a voice note earlier saying she needed a little space to solve some pending issues and that she’d call me back soon. That was it. Creepy thoughts kept nagging on me. Was she really avoiding me? Was it her way of telling me she didn’t want to be my friend anymore? Was it something I said or did? What secret was she hiding…from me? Of all people!!!and the more negative thought of all was, “was I losing her?”
I woke up today determined to find out what was wrong, anxious to know what she was really up to (with her phone off, email bouncing back, inactive social media accounts and all). I strapped my baby girl into her stroller, grabbed her birthday gift and headed straight to her home. I wasn’t sure whether my eyes watered from the wind blowing in my face as I pushed the stroller steadily up and down the pedestrian-unfriendly streets of our neighborhood, or out of fear that she might stand there unmoved, or worse – disturbed – by my surprising appearance at her door. And then I told myself I didn’t care, I had every right to check on my friend, even if she demanded to be left alone. Arriving at her building, I was greeted by the power cut which would last another hour, as one neighbor informed. You see, in Lebanon we have a 3-hour power cut daily schedule to save energy – assuming we actually had a power shortage in the first place, of course.
Feeling rather crushed, I unstrapped my girl who recently started walking, folded the stroller and carried them on each arm and walked up the stairs to her apartment. All the way up to the fifth floor, I prayed to find her home, but something told me she wasn’t though her car was parked outside the building. I was right, her mother apologized for her absence and disclosed some information that justified her sudden disappearance. I politely thanked her for receiving us so unexpectedly and left her home thinking about all the things that connect me to this girl.
In Ramadan 2003, my BFF and I met at our neighborhood’s most-attended mosque while we were praying the nightly prayers (or Taraweeh). We became the best of friends and sisters in faith since then. That deep connection remained though the years had passed and despite my marriage, my relocation to Saudi Arabia between 2007 and 2013, and my overwhelming motherhood tasks. I can’t recall a time when this uniquely thoughtful lady, whom I’m proud to call my friend, had not made me feel worth loving and so special. She is the kind of person who reminds you of all the good there is in life in spite of all the evil, mercilessness and greed that has taken over humanity. She has the heart (and temper) of a little child. Sweet but fiesty, strong but stubborn, frank but untactful. Above all, she was sincere and upfront, which is all I look for in a person.
She called me back in the afternoon to thank me for the gift and reassure me that she was alright. When we hung up, I realized how blessed I was, not because she was sent into my life but also because I was sent into hers for a reason. I don’t often go out of my way for people, I frankly stopped doing that after several disappointments. (that’s something I’ll leave for later blogposts). But for her I’ll go the extra mile just to see her smile. I know she would do that for me any given day. A friendship that’s sincerely mutual is a friendship worth keeping for life.
Someone once asked me why that girl, of all my other friends, was so dear to me. My answer came out unclear but now I do have the clarity to reply with “it’s Divinely made”. We love people regardless of their looks, size, race, color or religion, we love them for who they are on the inside. My friend has loved me for the hesitant person I’d been when I first met her, the mess I was when I was abroad, and the more mess I’ve become coming back home. She’s loved me when I was always there for her, and even more when I couldn’t be around. And I love her just the same. Sometimes I feel that our paths have crossed that holy night in that sacred place for a reason: So that we’d always remind one another of God. That is the bond that ties us together. When the going gets tough she always points at the bright side and unties the blindfold on my eyes. When she hits rock bottom I pull her back up and remind her of her massive inner strength.
Today was indeed a great day because I found out that I was the one who received the best gift of all: the gift of a timeless friendship that I will guard with my life.

Happy birthday sweetest friend, how lucky I am to have you ❤️

The One Way To Be A Good Parent

The sound of silence. Ahhh, how I relish it! I love that time of night when I can sit down and think about what happened during the day, evaluate each incident, each accomplishment, each tick made on the To-Do List. Hurray….Me time! And then it strikes me, the guilt…that agonizing feeling deep in my stomach when I know something didn’t really turn out right. I tell myself over and over again that I definitely need to muffle the voice inside me that reminds me, mockingly “oh, look…you failed to do that, AGAIN.” As mothers, we’re constantly bombarded with pictures of perfectionism on social media. You will read blog posts spreading like wildfire on parenting pages “100 DIY Crafts for Toddlers and Little Kids” “70 Activities to Keep Your Kids Busy This Summer” “How I disciplined my child in 3 days straight” “Foolproof ways to potty-train your toddler in a day” Ummm…seriously? A day? My son is six years old and I still get nightmares about his potty-training days…make that months! Parenting is far more tedious than what we perceive in advertisements showing perfectly-polished faces of parents gleefully playing with their children.
Not that it is wrong or unacceptable to display such positive moments of parent-child bonding, but to show only the bright side would surely devastate parents who are struggling to have quality time with their kids amidst their busy schedules. I am a stay-at-home mom and I barely have time to sit with – really sit and not just tend to the needs of – my children, I can only imagine how hard it feels for a working mom who only has a few hours on weekdays and a weekend to make up for all the lost time.
Perhaps we should give ourselves credit for simply trying to be the best that we could, simply creating the time instead of just finding it. That guilt which burdens most moms I know, including myself, should really stop. Why does motherhood have to come with such a dearly price? And why should we even compare ourselves to some lady playing peek-a-boo with her baby on a billboard? You won’t see a diaper ad featuring a mom changing bedsheets with a look of dismay on her face, or a baby food ad starring a picky toddler throwing his broccoli and pasta dinner plate on a recently-mopped floor. Well, these things do happen A LOT – on a daily basis. This is the gist of every mom’s life. Those mishaps, messes, dirt, stains, drools, tantrums, head bumps, whining. They are to be cherished as much as every quiet peaceful smiley-giggly moment. I can’t help but remember here the quote that says, “there’s no way to be a perfect parent, but a thousand ways to be a good one” There’s no way we are ever going to be perfect parents, and there’s no way we’re going to raise our kids perfectly, we just need to raise them well enough to rise up the challenges of life. There’s no way we can guarantee they’ll be truly accepted, loved and well-treated by their peers, teachers and other caregivers, but we can at least assure them they’re loved by us and assure ourselves we’re doing a good job at that.
I appreciate every successful parent’s effort to educate others, whether by blogging or writing, about all the great things parents can do with and for their children. The mention of the fake titles above was simply to draw attention to some unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves and our kids that turn out to be more harmful than useful. Believe me, I know exactly what those expectations feel like, I’ve tormented myself with such high expectations of myself which, not surprisingly, negatively affected my son. I know for a fact that he can’t stand crafts, can’t sit still for 10 minutes without fidgeting, hates coloring and will not learn any lessons from sitting in time-outs. I know my child. I know my child better than anyone else. So do you. Know what to expect of them and what not. Parenting is hard enough already. I remind myself and you, as a parent, that some moments are not worth sweating upon, not worth the stress that high expectations impose. They’ll grow up someday and we will all realize that such moments could have been easily avoided and replaced with more joyful ones. I truly hope so, anyway.
If there’s one thing we should expect of our children it would be that they reciprocate, as adults, all the love we have offered them as children. But even that is only in God’s hands and I’m pretty much certain that no amount of love invested in good upbringing will go unrewarded.