When Your Life Looks Nothing Like You Imagined

We often grow up with an idea of what our life will look like when we are at a certain age, more often than not, it is a realistic image, and more often than not, life doesn’t necessarily mirror the image we had for it. At that moment, we can feel inadequate, we can feel like a failure and we can feel that we failed to create the life we want or deserve, but if we take a closer look sometimes the magic is in the journey rather than the destination, it is in the lessons we learn along the way and the changes we have to go through to become the best versions of ourselves.


My life didn’t turn out to be anything like I imagined, in fact the image I had for my life doesn’t even come close to what it is now, and even though I do have my days when I brood about it and wonder where I went wrong, I still smile when I look back at the things I learned when the pieces of the puzzle didn’t fit.

Warning: lots of clichés in this post, but this is exactly what I need to tell myself and thought I’d share with everyone.

1. You Learn To Steer The Wheel In Another Direction

You know how the saying goes “If you don’t bend you will break” You will find yourself face to face with your fears and your worst nightmares, but you will have to face them, even if you don’t win, even if you fall short, even if you will never be the same person again, you will navigate through them to reach your destination. It is exactly like driving, sometimes you get lost, sometimes you take roads you don’t want to take, sometimes you drive alone at night and it can get scary, sometimes you will have to stop at a red light even though you can’t wait to go home, sometimes you will get into an accident and it may or may not be your fault, but the key will always be to keep driving and steer the wheel in another direction, whatever direction leads you back home.

2. You Will Be Forced To Look Within For Validation

If you are a people person like myself, you get your energy and your validation from those around you, you always wonder do they like me? Did I say the right thing? Are they going to speak well about me? Does my boss think I’m smart enough? Will this person stay or will they get bored and leave? You constantly expend your energy on those around you and that sometimes can be the demise of your own identity and personal growth. This may sound like a cliché but it is true, the best way to use your energy is to consume it on yourself first, and be in touch with who you are regardless of what those around you think of you. You have to embrace your flaws and shortcomings while working on them rather than seek validation from those around you. It helps when someone sees something good in us that we ceased to believe and it helps when someone picks us up when we fall, but at the end of the day, it is temporary relief. If you want long-term relief, you need to seek validation from yourself first and welcome the validation of others second, but you should always come first.

3. You Might Want To Reconnect With God

“When we have nothing left but God, we discover that God is enough.” This is one of my favorite quotes to sum up faith and life too. When things don’t go as planned, and when life gets hard, it is easy to sink in a dark hole and drown in a sea of anger, negativity and despair; also known as rock bottom. The good thing about hitting rock bottom is the fact that it allows you to reach to a higher power, ask for help, pray and seek guidance from Allah. If it takes a toll on your faith, let me assure you that you will not make it out of rock bottom easily, however if you use it as a tool to reconnect with God and strengthen your faith and the belief that God has a better plan for you and that his plans will make you happier than you ever thought you will be, you will be just fine. God sometimes gives us what we need rather than what we want, sometimes it is best not to ask questions and try to go against the ebb and flow of what God brings to our life, sometimes it is better to look up and say I know you got this, let go and keep the faith.

4. You Are Going To Lose Some People

It is a part of life, the more you know who you are and seek validation from within, the more people you are going to lose. Some people will not like it, some people will try to bring you back down, some people will hurt you, some people will walk away, some people will give up on you, and others will stab you right in the face. Only a few good ones will stick around and respect the transition, those people are the ones that are in your life to stay and will help you become your best self. I must say this is the hardest lesson, it doesn’t only require strength and self-control, it requires you to never look back, to close some doors that you so wanted to remain open. The hardest part is not letting them go, the hardest part is letting them go knowing you will not let them back in again, knowing that deep in your heart this person will cause you more damage than good and they have to go. In some cases, losing is winning.

5. It Will Make You A Better Person

Finally, when your life doesn’t turn out the way you wished for, it will humble you. It will make you a kinder person, a more sympathetic person, a wiser person, a stronger person, a less judgmental person, a deeper person, or simply it will make you human. You will learn that you can’t be perfect and you never will be, you will learn that you will fail at things you thought you were good at, you will learn that you can be hard to love sometimes, you will learn that you have bipolar tendencies, you will learn that you cannot control your surroundings and you cannot make someone change or someone love you. You will learn to accept your fate and stop trying to change it. You will learn that life will scar you, and it will hurt you but it will also surprise you-sometimes in a good way, and one day you will look back and be able to connect the dots, one day you will look back and make sense of all the confusion, one day you will surprise yourself when you look at the image you had for your life and realize that it doesn’t resonate with you anymore and it doesn’t matter.

Filled Under: Personal, Thoughts

Life Lessons – If I Knew Then What I Know Now

It’s been literally ages since I last posted here, but I really feel the need for me to write this.

There are literally 101dozens of famous quotes that begin with “If I knew then what I know now…” In fact, there is even a book by that name.

What are we really talking about when we start a sentence with: If I knew then what I know now? Think about that for a moment. What kind of perception and feelings would prompt us to use that phrase?

* The perception. Anytime we compare the present to the past we are doing so with the advantage of hindsight. We are looking back on our life course with knowledge that we did not have at the time and speculating how that knowledge would have altered our situation or outcome.

* The feelings. If we are pleased with some part of our personal history we generally don’t think about how having more knowledge at the time would have made it better. So, I think it is a fair assumption to say that the feelings behind the phrase “If I knew then what I know now” are rooted in regret or dissatisfaction. In some way we wish things had been different, right?

There will always be hindsight

The fact is, hindsight can only benefit us in the present, it has no application to the past. You can never change what has already happened and thinking about it is a complete waste of time. You can, however, use the knowledge you’ve gained to make better decisions right now. That’s what hindsight is for!

Now, here’s the kicker. In the future, when you look back on the decisions you make today you will have new knowledge that you don’t possess right now. That means that from that vantage point you will probably see possibilities that you do not see at present.

Life lessons are cumulative

If we are paying attention, life becomes a continuous learning experience. At any given point, the life lessons we learn are exactly what we need to learn to keep the process going. Admittedly, some of those lessons are painful and costly. The higher the price of a life lesson the more likely we are to remember it and to benefit from it in the future. Every experience has value if we learn from it.

With that in mind, we see that wishing we had acquired certain knowledge earlier than we actually did is unrealistic. One life lesson leads to the next and we can’t skip ahead. But we can, and should, learn from the experiences of others, especially from their mistakes. If we allow it, their life lessons will put us way ahead of the curve, but it still doesn’t change the process.

Is hindsight really 20-20?

We have all heard that hindsight is 20-20, but is that really true? Yes, but only for a moment because continued learning updates everything. Remember, the whole process is cumulative and knowledge is ever changing. We keep building on what we know and as long as we are alive the process never stops (hopefully).

How can understanding and accepting this process help us now and in the future?

3 Ways to make practical application

  1. Don’t waste time thinking about “if only.” Your life is busy unfolding right now, that’s where the majority of your focus needs to be. Instead of fretting over how the past might have been “if only,” think about all the valuable life lessons you have learned.
  2. Apply what you have learned. Use those life lessons to help you make wiser decisions now and in the future. Knowledge becomes wisdom only through application. You have spent years learning. Always strive to put what you’ve learned to good use.
  3. Turn hindsight into foresight. As you look back on your decisions and outcomes you should begin to notice patterns. When you did things one way you produced a certain type of result. When you did them differently, what kind of result did you get? Identifying the patterns that led to good results will improve the quality of your decisions. This is how hindsight becomes insight.

What led me to write this?

This article is my response to an Invitation to “Write about Stuff that You Wish You Had Known Earlier in Your Life.”  While it sounds like an interesting topic, my problem is that I don’t relate to it. I understand the premise, but I honestly don’t relate to it in my personal life.

Are there painful and costly life lessons from my past that could have been avoided by knowing then what I know now? Absolutely! Super heavy lifting has caused me more chronic back pain than I care to think about. Foolish investment decisions have cost me more money than I am willing to talk about. And the list goes on.

Speculation is worthless

Sure, I can see plenty of ways that my life might have been more comfortable if I’d had the knowledge to make better decisions in the past. But who is to say that one of those uncomfortable situations didn’t save my life somehow? Maybe my life would have been better on some level, but that is just speculation. I love my life and every experience has contributed to making it what it is, even the painful ones.

Life is an individual journey and we all experience different things and learn different life lessons right on schedule. I believe that experience is the greatest teacher. Even when academic knowledge initiates a profound life change, it is usually because our journey led us to a situation that made us receptive to that kind of learning.

Filled Under: Thoughts

We Officially Have A Teen In The House!!!

12400437_10156500956665438_4991688817115129877_nI can’t believe you’re turning 13! Seems like yesterday you were in kindergarten!

You no longer order from the kids’ menu, you count as an adult at amusement parks, and I shop for you in the men’s section. But you are still developing and maturing; you still haven’t quite become a young man, but you’re quickly getting there.

You enter the next phase of your life, we promise to give you enough room to find your own way. You will have ups and downs and make your own mistakes, but the important thing is to learn from them and keep on moving. While I am filled with the fear of your growing independence and the hope that we are leading you in the right path, I’m also filled with great pride knowing we are on the cusp of the most amazing years of your life. As you start this journey into adulthood, I hope that my words will resonate within you and help guide you. Remember each decision you make has a consequence and the ones you make now, can and will impact the rest of your life. Never hesitate to come to your dad and I. WE WILL ALWAYS BE HERE FOR YOU.

Some things I hope you remember:

• Thank God every day for all you have.

• Never settle for less! Always strive for the best!

• Be a great big brother. Many friends will come and go in your life, but your sister will always be here.

• Continue to be KIND.

• No one owes you anything. You must work hard to get what you want in life.

• Stand up for what you believe in.

• READ! There are a lot of people invested in what they can make you believe. Educate yourself. Knowledge is power!

• Pick your friends wisely. How many friends you have is not important. The quality of their character is. Your friends should be people who inspire you. People who will encourage and motivate you to be and do your best.

• Your life will move toward what you’re constantly thinking about. So don’t think negative things. Think abundance, more than enough, success, happiness, and good health.

• Always be a gentleman. Always open the door or pull out the chair for a girl, young or old. Always let a lady go first and offer your seat. Yes that means when you’re taking the bus to school as well. Being a class act never grows old.

• Continue to be RESPECTFUL.

• Learn to save and manage your money.

• Never try to be like someone else. Don’t get hung up on who is popular or cool and who isn’t. TRUST ME it won’t matter when you’re adults. Just be who you are. You are unique, wonderful and incredibly smart.

• Always give a firm handshake and look people in the eye when you’re speaking to them.

• Always believe in yourself.

• There’s more to life than rice and meat. You need to eat VEGETABLES!

• It’s okay to cry.

• You can accomplish anything you set your mind on! The world is in your hands!


• Be grateful and always say thank you.

• Learn to dance!

• Be careful what you put in writing. You will never be able to take it back.

• Never take or post pictures you don’t want anyone to see.

• Wake up each morning and say, “Today is going to be a great day! I can and I will!”

• Always call home. No matter what, your dad and I will always be here for you.

• Most importantly, observe your father. He’s a wonderful man – Intelligent, wise, compassionate and witty. He has integrity unlike anyone I have ever known. While I want you to grow into your own person, let him guide you. Learn from him. Be a sponge and absorb as much as you can. He is a role model that only comes once in a lifetime. Be grateful to God that he is your father as we are forever grateful you are our son.

• This was supposed to be 13 things I wanted to tell you…

Happy Birthday Yousef, I love you so much,


Filled Under: Thoughts

Love it … Love it all


Everyone grows up with their own beliefs and their own perceptions of what a true love really is. You will have all types of influences, including relationships you see your families and friends involved in, movies, TV shows, and other places as well. There are so many different things that you see, and so many unsuccessful relationships in this world nowadays that many of you are lost when it comes to making a successful and lasting relationship with someone that you really love.

If you are really going to love someone you have to be willing to love with no conditions, and love even when a person is at their worst. Loving someone when it doesn’t seem as though they really deserve it is an attribute that you have to search high and low to find in these days. Not everyone will hold you at your weakest, and not all hearts will love you at your worst, but when you find someone that will be sure to hold on dearly to a soul this special!

It’s not hard loving someone at their best, when they are being good to you, when that person asks you how your day was and how you’re feeling because it matters to them, when this person pecks you on the cheek and makes you the subject of their desires because it makes you feel wanted and adored. You revel in the fact that there is someone out there who is more than willing to trudge through mud, climb every mountain, and cross every ocean for you — metaphorically-speaking, of course, In short, it’s not hard at all that we love that person because they make you feel ridiculously good.

Love is beyond all of that, it’s is loving them at their worst, even with their worst faults and flaws, forgiving and Forgetting their wrong doings, enduring and being kind, always trusting and not easily angered, always trusting and hoping and never failing.

To see them during their bad days, when nothing seems to be going right for them and it puts them in a terrible mood which you must suffer for. you want to see them in all their insecurities; those qualities that they endlessly drone on about in their conversations and what they ask you about, hoping for a denial of said insecurity.

But what you really want to do is to see them at their worst; that extremity where they are at the lowest of the low, where other people would not exactly stick around to see them in that state. It may only be a moment or it may last for a significant amount of time but what all you want is for you to be there.

No, you will not be repulsed by them nor shun them.

In fact, you want to look into their eyes and gaze upon their imperfections and insecurities and realize that you have never seen such beauty in something so imperfect and tell them that everything is going to be okay. You want to be the one to pick them up and carry them through the flames of their trials and tribulations because you want to, unbound by your convictions or principles. You want to forget about how those flames will raze you with their blazing tongues and keep in mind that you are shielding them and you will take comfort and strength in that because they are all that matters to you.

Maybe love is about losing yourself in someone else and having no regard for your well-being because simply seeing that person smile and be happy makes you want to be the reason for it, no matter what the cost.

To see the best of them, and the worst of the, and still choose both.

Filled Under: Thoughts

On your 60th Birthday

297371_10150771291985438_7922005_nI wish you were here today, even for just a little while, so I could say Happy Birthday Baba, and see your face one more time.

The only gifts today will be the gifts you left behind; the laughter, joy and happiness, precious memories.

Today I’ll do my very best to try and find a happy place, struggling to hide my heavy heart and the tears on my face.

I’ll sit quietly and look at your picture remembering you, hoping you’re doing ok in Heaven up above.

May the angels hold you close and sing you a happy song, and I’ll be sending wishes and prayers to you today and every day.

You will always be in my heart, I remember your face, I remember your smile,   I remember your laugh, I remember your tenderness, I remember how you protected me and I know you still do.

You’ve been with God for quite some time, but the years will never let me forget, I will always remember you forever in my heart.

Baba, god’s garden must be beautiful, he always takes the best, he knew you were suffering, he knew that you were in pain, and saw your tired face, he then looked down upon the earth, he put His arms around you, and lifted you to rest.

He knew that you would never get well on Earth again, he saw the road was getting rough, and the hills were hard to climb, so he closed your wary eyelids, and whispered “Peace be thine.”

It broke our hearts to lose you, but you didn’t go alone, for part of us went with you.

The day God called you home…

Filled Under: Personal, Thoughts

what I learned from grieving

– No matter how prepared you think you are for a death, you can never be fully prepared for the loss and the grief.

– You can plan for death, but death does not always comply with our wishes or plans.

– “Stop avoiding and be present”.

– “Dying is not like you see on TV or in the movies.  It is not peaceful or prepared.  You may not have a spiritual or meaningful moment . . . It’s too real”.

– A hospital death is not always a bad death.

– A home death/hospice death is not always a good death.

– “There will be pressure from others to move on, even minutes or hours after a death, and this can lead to regrets”.

– “Death is not an emergency – there is always time to step back and take a moment to say goodbye”

– Death and grief make people uncomfortable, so be prepared for awkward encounters.

– When people offer support, take them up on it.

– People will bring you food because they don’t know what else to do.  Don’t feel bad throwing it away.

– People will say stupid, hurtful things without even realizing it.

– People will tell you things that aren’t true about your grief.

– Death brings out the best and the worst in families, so be prepared.

– There is no such thing as closure.

– There is no timeline for grieving.  You can’t rush it.  You will grieve, in some form, forever.

– “There will always be regrets.  No matter how much time you had, you’ll always want more”.

– Guilt is a normal part of grief.

– Anger is normal part of grief.

– “The pain of a loss is a reflection of love, but you never regret loving as hard as you can”.

– Grief can make you question your faith.

– “Grief doesn’t come in 5 neat stages.  Grief is messy and confusing”.

– Grief makes you feel like you are going crazy.

– Grief can make you question your life, your purpose, and your goals.  And that isn’t always a bad thing.

– We all grieve differently, which can create strain and confusion between family members and friends.

– “However badly you think it is going to hurt, it is going to be a million times worse”.

– You may find comfort in a very unexpected places.

– “The last 24 hours of their lives will replay in your mind”.

– Trying to protect children from death and the emotions of grief isn’t helpful.

– “It’s sometimes necessary to seek out new ways to grieve on your own, find new guidance, if the people who are supposed to be supportive simply haven’t learned how”.

– “You grieve your past, present, and future with that person”.

– Big life events and milestones will forever be bittersweet.

– Grief triggers are everywhere – you will see things that remind you of your loved one all over the place, and it may lead to sudden outbursts of emotion.

– “You lose yourself, your identity, meaning, purpose, values, your trust”.

– Holidays, anniversaries, and birthdays will be hard forever.

– People will tell you what you should and shouldn’t feel and how you should and shouldn’t grieve.  Ignore them.

– “The grief process is about not only mourning the loss, but getting to know yourself as a different person”.

– There is no normal when it comes to grieving.

– Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better.

– “It is normal to feel numb after it happens.  The tears will come. They come in waves”.

– Grief can make you feel selfish and entitled, and that’s okay (at least for a while).

– Meeting new people, who never knew the person who died, can be hard and sad.  But eventually it can be nice to “introduce” them through stories and photographs.

–  “People love to judge how you are doing.  Watch out for those people”.

– You can’t compare grief or compare losses, though people will try.

– Any loss you grieve is a valid loss, though people will sometimes make you feel otherwise.

– “Just because you feel pretty good one day it doesn’t mean you are cured of your grief”.

– There are many days when you will feel totally and completely alone, whether you are or not.

– Grief can make you do stupid, crazy things.  They may be what you need at the time, but you may regret them later.  Cut yourself some slack.

– Grief can make you a stronger person than you were before.

– Grief counseling doesn’t mean you’re crazy or weak.

– It is okay to cry sometimes.

– It is okay NOT to cry sometimes.

– “Time does NOT heal all wounds”.

– “Grief re-writes your address book”. Sometimes the people you think will be there for you are not.  People you never expect become your biggest supporters.

– “You don’t get over it, you just get used to it”.

– It is okay to tell people when they are not being helpful.

– You will have to face your emotions eventually – you can avoid them for a while, but they will catch up with you in the end.

– Talking isn’t the only way to express and process emotions.

– You will never go back to being your “old self”.  Grief changes you and you are never the same.

– Nothing you do in the future will change your love for the person who died.  Eventually you will begin to enjoy life again, date again, have another child, seek new experiences, or whatever.  None of these things will diminish your love for the person you lost.

– Death doesn’t just happen to other people.

– You are the only one who can say how you should feel.

– It is okay to be angry that people say stupid things, but remember they showed up to show their support for you and their respect for the deceased. Remember that, not the stupid comments if you can.

– You may find the person you lost was the glue that held your family/friends together. You might drift apart temporarily or permanently, or you might find new glue.

– Grief, You can’t go around it. You can’t go over it. You can’t go under it. You have to go THROUGH it or you have to go WITH it.

– When it comes to grief, there are no rules.

– Process guilt, but don’t keep processing it over and over to the point that it is harmful or unproductive.

– “Why?” and “What if…?” are unanswerable. The trick is to figure out how to live without the answers.

– You will forget – things about them, or them altogether for a moment – and this will bring a new style of guilt. You will remember them in unexpected ways.

– Sometimes grief will become a habit, it feels safe because you’ve been grieving so long that it starts to feel like part of you, like you don’t know how to be happy, or content, or calm.

– Grieving will feel like you are keeping that person in your life, but you can be happy without ‘letting them go’

– Losing someone you love is like an amputation, no matter how well you learn to get around, you will never be the same.  You don’t ‘get over’ it, you just adjust.

– Every death is sudden.

– Sometimes you can’t physically say goodbye to a person before they die and that can be devastating.

– The term closure is not helpful.  Bank accounts are closed, windows are closed, but the love we carry for those closest to us never closes.

– Too many people will try to impose time limits on your grief.

– It DOES get better.  Slower than we wish, but it does.

– For many people grief is cumulative. Each subsequent death of a person important to us is amplified by the grief we experienced over those who predeceased them.

– People of great faith, profound belief, trust in the Divine, and anticipation of an afterlife are not immune to grief. Those who say if you grieve you don’t truly believe are woefully wrong.

– Do not allow anyone to tell you how to grieve.

– Do not gauge your grief by the way others grieve as everyone is different.

– The death of a loved one does not prepare you for the death of the next loved one.

– Grief can bring physical pain.

– Years later, you may have a moment when you forget that person is dead, and you will lose them all over again.

– Grief lasts a lot longer than sympathy.

Filled Under: Thoughts

100 Things I Want To Teach My Daughter

1. Chocolate is only a temporary fix.Mai and Mira

2. A properly fitting bra is not a luxury. It is a necessity.

3. Your happiness is your happiness and yours alone.

4. How to apply red lipstick.

5. How to wear the crap out of red lipstick.

6. A boyfriend does not validate your existence.

7. Eat the extra slice of pizza.

8. Wear what makes you feel gracefully at ease.

9. Love the world unconditionally.

10. Seek beauty in all things.

11. Buy your friends dinner when you can.

12. Try with all your might to keep in contact with far-away friends.

13. Make the world feel at ease around you.

14. Walk with your head up.

15. Order a cheeseburger on the first date if you want to.

16. Never, EVER bite your nails.

17. Swipe on some lipstick, put on your leather jacket, and sneak into a party somewhere.

18. Learn from your mistakes that night.Victoria trip

19. Dental hygiene is not multiple choice.

20. Take pictures, but not too many.

21. Your GPA is not a confession of your character.

22. There is strength in breaking down.

23. You don’t have to like yoga.

24. Pick a tea.

25. Take care of your feet.

26. Pick a perfume.

27. Even if you’re tall, wear the heels anyway.

28. Classy is a relative term.

29. Like what you like.

30. Offer no explanation.

31. You are no less of a woman when you’re in sweats and gym shoes than a woman in stilettos and a pencil skirt.

32. A woman is a woman is a woman.

33. Love your fellow woman with all your heart and soul.

34. Cry, uninhibited, with your friends.

35. Laugh until you can’t breathe with your friends.

36. Tell me everything.

37. Exercise to be strong and healthy. A beautiful soul needs a sturdy vessel.

38. There is no shame in hoping for love.1017207_10152987396540438_502658204_n

39. My cooking is the best cooking.

40. Anna Karenina. I’d like it if you read it.

41. The world spins on the principle of inherent tragedy.

42. Do not be blind to it.

43. Men are effectively idiots until the age of 30.

44. Carbohydrates are not the enemy.

45. Involve yourself in an organized activity of your choosing.

46. Listen to classical music occasionally.

47. Take hot baths.

48. Do not use bath salts.

49. You are more than capable.

50. I promise.

51. Don’t smile if you don’t mean it.

52. Mean your anger. Mean your sadness. Mean your pain.

53. I am always, ALWAYS listening.

54. Travel.

55. Make me furious.

56. Make me worry.

57. Come home smelly, tired, and with a good story.

58. Your story isn’t really yours.

59. You are a compilation of others’ stories.

60. Well-fitting and modest is ALWAYS sexier than too small and tight.

61. Who cares if glitter isn’t tasteful?

62. It’s too much eyeliner if you have to ask.

63. Learn to bake for when you’re sad and I’m not there.551102_10153293656735438_1895304679_n

64. Humility and subservience are not synonyms.

65. Wash your face twice per day.

66. Be gentle with your skin.

67. Science is really cool.

68. So is literature.

69. And history.

70. And math.

71. There is no substitute for fresh air.

72. Carry your weight.

73. Make up for it later if you can’t.

74. That salad is not better than pasta and it never will be.

75. You’re fooling no one.

76. Find at least three green vegetables you can tolerate.

77. A smoothie is not a meal.

78. Expect the best from everyone.

79. People will let you down.

80. Bask in the sun (wearing a sunhat and sunscreen).

82. There is a certain kind of man you need to avoid at all costs.

83. You’ll know it when you meet him.

84. What other people say is right doesn’t always feel right.

85. What feels right is where your happiness is.

86. Give thoughtful gifts.

87. Form an opinion.10575916_10154659174395438_17467554_n

88. Stick to it.

89. Exfoliation in moderation.

90. Argue with people when you need to.

91. If it’s worth fighting for, fight fiercely.

92. Don’t fight for acceptance.

93. You shouldn’t have to.

94. It’s not your job to keep the people you love happy.

95. It’s OK to disagree with me, and others.

96. You are so very beautiful.

97. There is no single person who can be your everything.

98. Money doesn’t grow on tress

99. Follow your bliss at all costs. (I’m cutting you off at 22, though).

100. Chocolate ice cream, however, might just be a permanent fix.

Filled Under: Thoughts

Happy Mother’s Day Mamti

!cid_4FB1504E-0325-4E7E-B589-9D91B91A666FMama, you will never know how much you mean to me; you have helped me in so many ways, you have given me advice when I needed it, you have made me strong when I was weak, you gave me a shoulder when I needed to cry, you have held my head when I was sick, you mean everything to me, if only I could give back half of what you have given me, you have made me this woman that I am today, the mother that I am today, you are a remarkable woman, to have you has a mother, I would never have it any other way, you are one in a billion, you will always be my hero, always and forever.

If I knew as a child what I know now, Mama, I probably wouldn’t have made things so hard for you. I would have understood that you were looking out for my best interest, even though it may not have seemed so at the time. I would have known how difficult it is to let go, to stand back and let someone you love learn from their mistakes. I would have realized how fortunate I was to have a mother who was always there for me, even after an argument, even after I’d said things I shouldn’t have. I know how often I took you for granted when I was growing up. I always assumed you’d be there when I needed you, and you always were.  But I never really thought about what that meant till I got older and became a mother myself, I began to realize how often your time and energy were devoted to me. So now, for all the times I didn’t say it before, thank you, Mama.  I appreciate how loving you are, how giving you’ve always been and that even though I may not always be good at showing it.

I love you very much,


Filled Under: Thoughts

Awkward Situations — Vol 2: On a Plane

Awkward SituationsSo I travel to LA a lot, about every 3 months or so, I always brace for the impact of encountering airline passengers; when people are treated like cattle, they can hardly be blamed for reacting like baboons.  Here, rules of engagement for the most ruthless form of travel.

Awkward Situation: Despite the airline calling for people to board by seat rows, 150 people are clustered around the gate, jockeying to get to the front.  You seem only to have two options:  shove your body through the masses like a teenager at a Jonas Brothers concert, or literally be the last person to board (forfeiting your access to overhead bin real estate).

Solution: Follow traditional traffic rules.  A coworker used to works at Swerve, a driving instruction company.  He says most people on the road should already know the common-courtesy rule of “Each one lets one.”  The same applies here.  As you move like so much human sand through the hour glass, let one person go in front of you and then someone else lets you in.  We hope.

Awkward Situation: 
You are finally seated and prepared for takeoff, when the person next to you reveals the undeniable fact that they are a Chatty Cathy.  Your eyes glaze over at the prospect of speaking for two hours with a total stranger whom you will never see again in your life.

Solution: Engage in minimal small talk until takeoff, wherein you pull a book from your bag and show it to the Cathy, saying kindly, “Have you heard of this author?  She’s supposed to be fantastic.  I’ll let you know how it is!”  And then promptly open it.

Beverage Cart
Awkward Situation: It’s your first official day of “break” and you and your friends are eager for a little yule-tide cheer — in the form of a beer.  Or wine.  Or cocktail.

Solution: Plane rides are not the time to party-hardy.  When you’re stuck in a stationary position and can’t even converse with more than the two people next to you, you’re not in a place to have too good of a time.  Just have one drink and pay with cash.  Order quietly so you’re not obnoxious.  Don’t ask twenty questions to see what brands they carry — check ahead of time by looking in the airline guide in the pocket in front of you.  Then raise a glass and cheers to a safe flight.

Switching Seats
Awkward Situation: The person next to you asks if you would please switch seats with their spouse so they can sit together — but said spouse is 15 rows behind you and in a middle seat.

Solution: If you can swing it for a short flight, consider it your good deed of the week and say you’d be happy to help.  If you are already sitting with your own spouse, kindly explain that you understand their situation but you would like to stay with your traveling companion.  Also, even if you aren’t traveling with someone, you’re under no obligation to move seats.

Bathroom Break
Awkward Situation: You’re practically bursting at the seams after four diet Sprites and two hours of resisting the urge to visit the dreaded airline bath-closet (how could we call that a room with a straight face?).  But there are three people already clustered around the stewardess area waiting their turn.

Solution: It depends on your seat.  If you’re middle or window, get up as soon as possible to expand the amount of time between disruptions of your seat mates.  If you’re aisle, wait until there is only one person or no line at all before hopping up.  Also, keep in mind that the people in the unfortunate seating of the last few rows of the airplane shouldn’t have to stare at your backside that hovers directly in their faces as you wait for the bath-closet.


Warm thanks to those of you who sent in great etiquette conundrums.  For those of you who have yet to inquire, feel free to ask about your awkward situation at mai@maioush.com

What to eat3 months ago, if you had asked what my favorite foods were, I would have replied, bread, rice, bread, chocolate, bread … and did I mention bread and chocolate? I pitied my gluten-intolerant friends and rolled my eyes at the trendiness of “everything-free” diets. So of course it happened: I found myself struggling with health problems, followed by the discovery that I, too, was one of those people whose sensitive to gluten, dairy, or refined sugar. As someone who loves food, this seemed like a tragedy. Little did I know it would reinvigorate my cooking, not to mention my health and happiness.

Here’s how I cut out my favorite foods and what I learned along the way…

Few months ago I finally got sick of being fat. Without veering into TMI territory, I’ll just say I had been suffering for months, and even years, from digestive troubles, skin conditions, migraines, fatigue, mild depression, you name it. My health practitioner suspected I might be eating something I was allergic or sensitive to and suggested an elimination diet. That’s where you stop eating certain foods for a period of time and note any symptoms as you add them back in, one by one.

Desperate to get to the bottom of my health problems, I agreed to go a month without eating common trigger foods like gluten, corn, dairy, eggs, nuts, soy, and refined sugar.

And then I started feeling better — so much better that I almost didn’t mind when I discovered that I’m sensitive to gluten, dairy, and refined sugar. (The only foods I was able to add back in were eggs, corn, and soy.) My worst nightmare had come true, yet I felt great. The funny thing is that friends and family seemed more sad about my new diet it than I did!

That’s not to say there weren’t challenges as I navigated different ways of cooking and eating. Being a picky eater has made it particularly difficult. Yet I am so much more appreciative of what I can eat, and of food overall. I still have a lot to learn, which is part of the fun, but here are a few significant things I’ve discovered in the past year.

Note: This post is not meant to suggest any specific way of eating or to provide health advice but simply to share some things I’ve learned about eating and cooking with joy and passion, even when you have to make difficult changes.

8 Things I’ve Learned About Cooking Without Gluten, Dairy, and Sugar

1. Listen to your body. Even though I might feel great on my particular restrictive diet, I’ve come to believe that each person’s body is different with individual dietary needs. Bodies change, too! I’m discovering that what worked for me might not work now, and what I need today could change tomorrow. As an example, I’ve recently been able to reintroduce small amounts of dairy, including some that had triggered symptoms since childhood. Without being obsessive, I continually reassess how I am feeling and eating.

2. Nourishment goes beyond taste. We’re accustomed to thinking about the flavor of food in our mouths, or how full it makes our bellies, but how about its effects on energy and mood? After years of feeling sluggish after eating, it was a revelation when I changed my diet and started feeling energized after a meal. I am much more mindful about how food makes me feel in my whole body, both physically and emotionally.

3. Focus on learning, not missing. As someone who loves food, I initially felt unmoored when I could no longer cook like I used to. But as I transitioned to new ways of eating, it reinvigorated my cooking and I’ve had so much fun experimenting and learning about different ingredients and techniques, from the science of gluten-free baking to making homemade sauce and raw desserts. Staying curious has saved me from feeling sad about what I’m missing.

4. It’s okay to fail. I say this after making plenty meals that ended up in the trash. Yes, it’s frustrating when you’ve invested time, money, and hope into a dish that doesn’t work, but with every mishap you learn how to be a better and more resilient cook. It helps to have a sense of humor, too.

5. Gluten-free and/or vegan doesn’t necessarily mean healthy. This is especially true for processed foods, which may be filled with refined flours, sugars, artificial ingredients, and fillers. While pre-packaged foods may be fine from time to time, I don’t make them staples of my diet. Instead, I focus on homemade, simple, seasonal cooking.

6. Asian markets are amazing. I regularly shop at Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Indian grocery stores where I find great deals on gluten-free Asian noodles made from ingredients like rice, mung bean, and sweet potato; gluten-free flours like acorn, chickpea, and sorghum; and coconut products like oil and milk that are all the rage in vegan recipes. (Note: These products usually aren’t certified gluten-free so they might not be the best option for everyone.)

7. Plan ahead. When you can’t eat common ingredients, it becomes much harder to grab lunch on the go or to eat dinner at a relative’s house. I always carry snacks in my purse and usually eat a little something at home (even a quick sandwich) before going out to dinner with friends.

8. Find what inspires you. For me, it’s fresh produce, wild foods, and spices. Whereas a trip to a bakery or even a regular grocery store can be demoralizing, at the farmers’ market, spice shop, or even in the woods I’m surrounded by an abundance of foods that I can eat! I love seeking out fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spice blends I haven’t tried. These make a meal interesting and exciting.

Do you follow a special diet, or cook for someone who does? Share what you’ve learned!