life

The contradictions within me

What is it about human beings and all our contradictions? 

I’ve been feeling a bit mellow the past few days. A bit itchy. Yes. Mellow AND itchy. I feel down. I don’t want to do anything. But I’m really really itching for an adventure.

Just now, after flicking through my Facebook feed, I thought, “All I want to do is to go somewhere where I can completely distance myself from other human beings.” Yet only 30 minutes earlier I told my husband, “I need to get out and go somewhere where there are other human beings.”

Yesterday I was watching Come Dine With Me on TV. One of the contestants lived in a beautiful old home in the English countryside. She had her own lake in her back garden. So I thought, “I’d love to have a grand old house in the English countryside with my own lake.” The reality is that when my husband and I got serious about buying a larger home, I ended up feeling completely overwhelmed, I couldn’t find anything that lived up to the much smaller house we currently have, and I was the one who decided that we’re fine just where we are. So it was mission abort.

I love beautiful things. I love walking through the shops and looking at all the wondrous things that have been created by my fellow man. Then I look at the price tag and realize there was no way on earth I’d be willing to spend that kind of money on something no matter how nice it was.  (more…)

The Need to Write

Sometimes I feel like I just need to write. 

When I’m sad, when I’m happy, when I’m confused, when I’m excited… sometimes I feel like I just need to write.

Many times when I feel like I just need to write, I don’t have anything of importance to write about. I’ll dig deep inside, try to disentangle all the thoughts and stories inside of me, and find something worthy of letters. I think that’s why I blog so much about my feelings. They are the most accessible things for me to write about. They are always there, ready to be dissected and exposed to the world.

Writing connects me to people. I need that connection. Now more than ever because I have so few people who appear regularly in my day-to-day life. Can I blame everything on the Egyptian revolution? I want to. The sense of loss…loss of family…loss of friends…loss of purpose…loss of hope…loss of home…loss of work…loss of passion.

I make it sound horrible. I know it is not. Not always. Most of the time I manage to keep myself in a positive frame of mind. So much has happened in four years; in my personal and professional life, in Egypt, in the world. I cope by approaching life with tunnel vision. I focus on the one thing I feel I have some minor control over: me. I focus on the day-to-day. I give myself goals. I entertain myself. (more…)

My Letter to a Younger Me

I turned 46 this year. If I could send a letter back in time to a younger me, this is what I’d write:

 

Nadia, 

You’re about to turn 30. Strap yourself up in your seat belt because it’s about to get really tough.

You’ve already started to see glimpses of how difficult things are going to get.

The unhappiness. The general feeling of discontent. The loneliness. Feeling lost about almost everything.

All that gets worse. Much much worse.

Prepare yourself for a long period of darkness. You will feel like you are drowning. Every now and then you’ll find a straw, you will grab onto it thinking it will pull you back to the surface only to discover it’s a thorn. You will be pricked, you will have to let go of the thorn, and you will sink ever deeper.

Things will get so bad at one point that, for the first and only time in your life, you will briefly consider ending it. Breathe. Let the moment pass. It will.

You will call out for help. You will explain, using all the words you can find, what ails you. You will be clear that you need professional help. The people who matter, who can help, will hear you. But they will not be listening.

You will look around you and not know whom to trust. You will have many people around you, but you will feel as if you are alone in a stark, empty desert. (more…)

What Real Reality TV Might Look Like: My Life in a Month

I tend to watch a lot of crap reality TV. It helps take my mind off more serious issues: like wars and death in the Arab world and whether my children will be safe going to school in Egypt today.

But being the semi-intelligent person I am, I realize that most if not all of what we see on reality television shows is staged in one way or another.

A couple of my friends have mentioned over the past two years that I should have a reality television show of my own. I always reply, “Do you have any idea how boring and commonplace my life is? There would be absolutely no element of entertainment.”

Of course, my life isn’t really boring. Quite to the contrary, if you ask me. I manage to spice things up as often as is possible given my circumstances. Even so, my life, as is anyone else’s, is comprised of a lot of routine interspersed with some excitement.

Last month I had a sudden burst of creative energy. I wanted to do something a bit different. How about I take small videos of random parts of my day for a month and see what that month of my life looked like in retrospect?

So I carried a mini camera with me all month long. It went with me everywhere. Sometimes I’d remember I had it with me and others I wouldn’t. When I would randomly remember I had it I’d take a short video clip of whatever it was I was doing. I kept that up for a full month.

I put together some random four-second clips from the videos I took. I thought of making it move fast-forward or of adding some music to it. But then I decided that the normal speed and the normal noise is what my life is really like. I’m going to leave things just as they are. Normal.

(more…)

Ready for a New Adventure: I Ask Myself “Why?”

Every single time I set off on an adventure, I can’t help but ask myself for the millionth time, “Why?” What seemed so logical and simple when the idea initially originated now seems so odd and out-of-the-ordinary.

“Why do I keep doing this sort of thing to myself?” I ask. “What do I get out of it? Why am I doing it?”

It is always at this stage, a few days before the actual trip, that fear, trepidation, and anxiety find their way to settle into my heart and mind. These are not new emotions for me. I feel these when I embark on any sort of change. ANY sort of change. I manage to get myself, like most others, into a daily routine that I am comfortable with. Anything that changes that routine, engaging in a new activity, writing a new article, meeting up with people for coffee, going on an errand I’m unaccustomed to, all these things cause me anxiety and minor trepidations. I have come to learn that if I succumb to these emotions every time I feel them I would do nothing with my life beyond my simple, daily routine.

Yet I am also aware that the anxious emotions I feel before an adventure are well-founded: there are risks involved, I am embarking on a lot of unknowns, and I am leaving my family behind. I have found a way to work with my pre-adventure anxieties. They guide my thoughts to the possible risks involved in my upcoming journey and I make sure to put in an extra effort to organize the trip in a way that makes it as safe as is possible.

None of that removes the nagging question, “Why?”

In no particular order, here are my answers: (more…)

I’m a Social Media Addict: Not

On January 6 this year, I suddenly woke up to the conclusion that I was addicted to social media. I wrote a blog post about this and decided I needed to cut down on my social media use. The following day I posted an update on my progress. This is my third and last update of my social media abstinence experiment. (more…)

I’m a Social Media Addict: End of Day 1

Today I decided to decrease my social media use. I’ve tried this before but it has never lasted for very long. A friend of mine was visiting yesterday and he told me how much better – and less stressful – his life had become ever since he stopped using Facebook six months ago. He also said that that he read lots of books since then. That’s when I decided: that’s it. I’m doing this. I’ve been wondering if I was missing out on life because of my over-use of social media. Now is the time to see if that is the case.

Today I went onto Facebook and Twitter twice. The first time this morning I probably spent about 30 minutes on it. This evening I found myself less interested in going through all my friends’ feeds. I scrolled down just a little bit and then stopped. I didn’t feel like I needed more.

During the day, I did feel a bit of tension every time a thought went through my head that I would normally immediately share on social media. But that tension was balanced out by a general sense of relaxation. I felt more relaxed today than I have in awhile, actually. It is almost as if being constantly on social media gives me some sort of an adrenaline high. Or perhaps it is the constant state of engagement that I’m in while I’m on social media. I was also spared the negative news I frequently find on my feeds and the general negativity that my friends will frequently and understandably express. (more…)

Bring It On, 2014!

When you have a blog that you update semi-regularly and when there are a couple of people out there in this world who actually

Our 2013 Reminder Jar

Our 2013 Reminder Jar

read what you write, you feel a certain sense of obligation to your vast audience of two to write something special to bring in the new year.

I’ve been thinking of what my New Year post should be about for days, writing words in my head and then almost immediately afterwards erasing them (in my head too, of course. That’s how it works). Sometimes I begin writing great words of wisdom. And then I go back in my head and remember all the blog posts I wrote about how confused I have been this year and decide that is probably not a wise road to take. Other times in my head I write a summary of all the things that have happened to me, at me, around me, and in me and quickly realize how boring all that is even to me let alone to everybody else. I do want to write something, though. So I decided that I would do what I always do: I’ll sit down and let the words flow out of me. I’ll just be me.

At the beginning of 2013 my husband and I started a 2013 Reminder Jar. (more…)

The Meaning of Life

I’ve been thinking about life a lot lately. I look at my own life and wonder if it has much meaning. It has meaning to me, of course. But does it have meaning beyond me? Will my brief existence on Earth have any meaningful short-term or long-term impact? Is it important that it does?

Life is such a strange thing.

There are points in every one of our lives where it just simply takes our breath away. These are different for each of us. They could be in the ecstasy of passing a difficult exam at school, or in the miraculous moments of giving birth to a child, or while standing on a mountain top, or while sitting with a dear friend, drinking tea on a long cold night, and laughing from the bottom of your hearts while remembering days gone by.

There are other points in every one of our lives when we are enveloped by a darkness we may think will never end: the death of a loved one, being unemployed, losing everything in a natural disaster, or, for some, simply failing an important exam at school.

And there are all the ups and downs in between: (more…)

When I Die…

When the day comes and I am lying on my deathbed or breathing my last breath, it is important to me that I can look quickly back on my life and feel that I lived it to the fullest.

I thought I was doing well until recently.

I can say with a certain degree of confidence that throughout the various phases of my life I have lived in a way that the Nadia of that phase wanted to live. I don’t have any regrets I can think of. Even when I have made horrible horrible mistakes I know that I made them consciously and decisively. I am aware they were mistakes. And in the process of making those mistakes and in their aftermath I have learned much about myself and the world around me.

I periodically ask myself, “Nadia, if you die now, will you feel content with the way you have lived your life?” And the answer has almost always been, “Yes.” Sometimes it has even been, “Hell, yes!” (more…)