On December 24 I wrote a blog post that I never published. It was entitled Here is to 2009. I thought I would wait a bit before publishing it and then the Gaza Massacre happened and other things became more important than my personal rants and raves about 2008 and 2009. Yet I have been thinking about the post and I have decided to post it below. I post it and yet want to comment on how three days after the positive note the year was ending on was turning sour, the big bang I wanted to start 2009 with was not that of guns and bombs.


Yet I look at it on a personal level again and though I first felt impotent, angry and I didn’t know what to do with my energies, I put my first resolution to the test. I did get more involved with different initiatives and will continue to get more involved on different levels.


In positing this I am still thinking there is much to be done and some of what I want to achieve is trivial but these trivialities are a privilege and I am thankful for the privileges in my life.  2009 did not start on a positive note with occupation, genocide and abuse being the dish of the day. But I am an optimist and I think that things will change and turn around. I think that because in my own way I know I can help initiate change even on a small scale with a word, a picture, an action. Small change can become big change and there are ways to turn misfortune into small wins. We just need to find that silver lining.


So if you wanted to know what I was thinking that happy day here it is, but do watch this space to know how things have changed and progressed in the mundane life that is Shalabieh’s World!



Here is to 2009


Last year I ended the year with a Thank you note (And I want to thank…)


It was a review of a year gone and passed it was year that ended positively for me 2007 was great. It was the year I turned 30 and it was definitely a milestone year. Looking back at 2008 I can only say it just keeps getting better. My thirties are definitely better than my twenties. And as the fortuneteller in Bangkok said: “30 good, 31 better, 32 BETTER. Good money, good job, good lover!” So 32 here I come. But not before I say good bye to 2008.


The year 2008 was a wonderful year. This year saw some much growth and change and all for the better. This year was a turning point in many ways with many wonderful things happening:

  • It was the year I reconnected with Palestine after an absence of 8 years
  • It was the year I met my nephew for the first time and really knew what it meant to be an aunt
  • It was the year I got connected at home with a new laptop and allowed internet to reinvade my private space (not so sure that’s a good thing)
  • It was the year I took a passion to the next level and bought my first SLR camera and I love taking pictures with it
  • It was the year I made a lot of new friends near and far and got close to a lot of them
  • It was the year I realized how much I liked development work and working with people underprivileged and underserved to better all our lives
  • It was the year I explored more of the Middle East than any other with travels to neighboring and not so neighboring countries and I realized how much I love the Middle East
  • It was the year I reclaimed me once again from the clutches of an unfulfilling love.
  • It was the year in which I stood my ground
  • It was the year I asserted myself


It is a year that is ending on such a positive note that I can only look forward to 2009 with anticipation and excitement. I am looking forward to a number of things on so many different fronts that I will have different kind of new year resolutions’ list. 2009 will be the year that

  • I will get more involved
  • I get out of debt no matter how miniscule
  • I will work on a photography project that will result in an exhibition
  • I will write more here and start a writing project too
  • I will take up learning to ride a bike again
  • I will reclaim the kitchen again and start cooking for myself
  • I will go somewhere new I have never been before and I am not just talking about travel


2009 is my year because I want it to be, not because a fortune teller told me it would be. So I will defiantly be drinking to 2009 and bring it in with a nice big bang!


Happy New Year everybody and see you in 2009.



How many times have you shied away from doing something because you were afraid of the outcome? You were afraid to take a chance? What about the other extreme of that, how many times have you jumped, feet first, into things without thought to the consequences? Which one of these types are you?


As for myself I am somewhere in the middle. There are things that I jump into very quickly and take the risks. In those I have lost and I have won. In all cases I have learned and moved forward. Its funny, I am not afraid to tell someone I like them, ask them out on a date, or go out on that limb where you never know if the branch will fall from under you or not. I am not ashamed or embarrassed about making a fool of myself in public (think karaoke). I am not afraid to ask people personal questions, and I fully expect to be told its none of my business. And some of my most rewarding and biggest learning experiences have been because of these jumps


In other areas of my life I have been so hesitant even paralyzed with inaction. Is the comfort zone we don’t want to leave? Is the fear of the unknown? Or is it pure laziness? I think its all the above and then some.


We are fearful and fearless creatures rolled into one. I have seen myself perform in the most difficult situations and rise. I have seen myself take personal risks that make me vulnerable and prevail. I have seen myself laugh at myself and enjoy it. Being brave in these things have meant that I got to explore things I would have otherwise just wondered about. I have been able to move beyond the thought to action. And it is such a freeing experience, even if the outcome is not as positive as one would like.


The other side of that is the one in me that is constantly questioning and stalling in a zone that is wonderfully comfortable. One where I late fate take over instead of being in control of my fate; that way at least I can shrug my shoulders and blame it on the cosmos. I don’t like this side of me. I have started to change that slowly this year. Standing up to myself proves to be the toughest stance I have ever had to take. Getting out of my compliance and moving forward from laziness, comfort, insecurity, inaction, fear is one of my biggest challenges. I have to over come these hurdles and who knows where I will end up.


This takes guts, discipline, action, and support. I want to be able to jump in all areas of my life. I know that there are some jumps that will require some planning, others that I will do with a quick look over the ledge and others still that I will dive into. In all cases whether I land on my feet, my hear or my ass, I want to be able to look back at my life and see that when I needed to, I had the guts to plunge, and you can keep the glory, that’s not why I am jumping!


So if you read the Elastic List you will know that one of the things I want to do is to learn to ride a bike. Yesterday I took the first step to making that happen, I took my first bike ride. YAY! It was at the sports city, two friends came with me for moral support only to be told I don’t do well in front of audiences, so off they went on their bikes and I stayed behind with my instructor.

I learned what I had to do to peddle off and after getting my feet off the ground, I was very quick to put them back down. And so 20 minutes into this I was still learning how to take off. It was frustrating because just when I thought I had it, I would lose my balance. But after a while and with the help of the trainer I was able to ride, for a couple of minutes, but I was able to ride. Oh what fun it was.

An hour later I was kind of riding, still learning to balance and how to break, still not getting the start right, but you know what ,I was on a bike and trying. I was making my dream come true. I was on a bike! It was fun, and frustrating, it was scary and exhilarating, it was funny and fun. But I proved to myself I can do this and I will. So hopefully and soon I will write about driving a bike down the streets of Amman and then you will know I did it. I would have crossed out the learning to bike again off my list and will start something new after that.

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a list of things I wanted to do before I die. The list is not static in any way with things being added constantly, things being forgotten, and things not on the list even being done. The list is organic with a life of its own. It is ever expanding and retracting. It is elastic.

Thinking about all these unfulfilled desires I noticed that a lot have to do with travel and seeing the world. I remember being in my early teens and saying I will die happy when I see Victoria Falls. I also want to go live in India for 6 months, a goal I want to fulfill within 5 years. I want to live by the sea again. I want to see Turkey, Oman, Yemen, Iran, Cuba, Brazil, Indonesia, Australia, Vietnam, Nepal, Chile, Prague, South Africa, the Maldives, and every ocean, not in any particular order.

But there are other things I want to do. I want to relearn how to ride a bike. I want to buy an SLR camera. I want to fly a kite. I want to make a kite. I want to learn to ride and own a motorbike. I want to swim naked in the ocean and go topless under the sun. I want to shave my head at least once in my life. I want to go up in a hot air balloon (I’ve planned this twice and never succeed). I want to go to Wadi Rum and Finan Lodge with someone special. I want to do Petra by Night too. I want to hike down from the High Place in Petra the back way. I want to lose the last 10 KG that have been haunting me for the last 7 months.

I also want to find my passions in life and never get bored working again. I want to open an B&B with a little restaurant called Mama Sally’s. I want to work on my photography. I want to work without having to worry about money. I want to go back to school just for the hell of it. I want to be a philanthropist.

All these desires are waiting to be fulfilled and their time will come. Even if they don’t it’s OK. I have also accomplished a lot and fulfilled a lot of desires. I’ve had a very good life, with its ups and downs, and for that I am grateful. So whether I actively plan for some of these desires and get them done, if they just happen or if they don’t, I’m a happy camper.