New Beginnings



Welcome to my blog.


The idea for Enlivened has been brewing in my mind for a few years but I was juggling multiple projects and had neither the time nor the clarity of what I really wanted to write.


Then, the pandemic hit, and life as I knew it was altered dramatically, as I imagine it has for many of you. I needed to find new outlets for my creativity and new ways to deal with the transformed version of life: confined and limited. I also knew it didn't need to be this way. Life is about the attitude we bring to it and we always have a choice to either succumb to the negativity that dominates or resort to discernment and choose how and where we put our attention.


With this in mind, I decided to put my attention in that which enlivens me . It is a way to stay positive and to remind myself that joyous moments are always around us, if we simply stop and direct our attention towards them. Hence, the title of my blog and the birth of this platform where I hope to share small ways to reset, reconnect, feel more integrated and smile. It doesn't take much, just the willingness to shift mindset.


As 2020 draws to an end, I reflect on all the gifts the pandemic has brought me. Without the slow-down, I would still be chasing the elusive and imaginary dream. But the sudden shift of pace and extended time at home, that turned into a virtual classroom and office space, forced me to rethink what mattered most and how my family and I would navigate this new-normal.


I started with my garden. I live in Houston and we are blessed with being able to spend a good portion of the year outdoors. I wanted my garden to be a sanctuary for my family and myself where we could find tranquility and calm amidst all the uncertainty. My garden had been neglected for so long, and now felt an opportune time to revitalize it and turn it into a personal oasis. It was a five-week long project and a labor of love that resulted in a transformation I could only dream of just a year ago. I spend countless hours on the patio, reading, writing, zooming, and social-distancing with my friends. It's been a true pandemic gift.





Once the garden was finished, I started learning a new language. I have always loved languages and foreign cultures. I am Lebanese, grew up in London, went to a French school, completed my High School in an international school in Wales, and now live in Texas, by way of New York City for four years prior. I love diversity and learning from others who hail from other parts of the world. And so it is with much joy that I am learning Italian through Houston's Italian Cultural Community Center ( and Zoom!) in the hope that once travel is safe, I can spend time in Italy with my family and immerse myself in the food, culture and land that I am learning so much about and growing so fondly of. My world expands with every lesson even if my conversation skills are still rusty and limited.





I also love writing and in January 2020 I decided to pursue writing classes at Grackle & Grackle, as a way to broaden my writing skills, derive meaning from my past experiences, meet like-minded soul searchers, and have the opportunity to read essays that I may not have come-across on my own. The process has been nothing short of expansive thanks to my amazing teachers Miah Arnold & Cait Weiss-Orcutt, and my classmates who have shared such intimate personal stories. Each time I read their essays I get a snippet of a life so different from mine, yet with so many shared universal truths. We have so much more in common with each other than any first impression makes us believe. The stories I have had the privilege to read attest to that. Our shared humanity outweighs our individual idiosyncracies, at least, I like to believe it does. It frees my perception of my world from the artificial barriers we unintentionally put up as a way to create tidy compartments into which we either fit into or not. Why not always belong? It's an attitude- One that requires suspension of judgment and false assumptions.





And lastly, my year was enlivened by technology. How would we have handled the pandemic without it? Our sense of isolation and disconnect would have been unbearable for the most stoic of us. Technology brought the world to my home. I just had to switch on my computer and click a few buttons, and there I was in my virtual wine-tasting class with Wine Master Jimmy Smith of the West London Wine School. The world of wine has always fascinated me but now I am hooked. There is so much to learn about terroir, soil and climate conditions, grape variety and fermentation, and so much more still to learn. It's fascinating and I wish I could spend months in Tuscan, French or South African vineyards. I would be finding my bliss! Perhaps that's a vision to start working towards! We are only limited by our ability to imagine and our attachments to false-beliefs. I am grateful to technology for making this new learning experience possible.





And thanks to Zoom and Google Streetview, I have also enjoyed an infinite number of walking tours across the UK and the world courtesy of the Museum of Walking and Airbnb. I open my computer, click a few buttons and I am in the trusted care of Gail Astbury, a well-known British artist, who leads us through public artworks in different boroughs of London and beyond. It's a joy to spend an hour with her, shifting cultural perspective and feeling all the more expansive for learning about the role of art in everyday spaces. And thanks to Airbnb's online experiences, I learned how to bake Pastel de Nata (custard tart), took tours of street art in Medellin, Columbia, Buenos Aires, Argentina, New Delhi, India and Lisbon, Portugal. I call this my virtual summer vacation, the summer when travel overseas was not an option but my curiosity and passion for discovery needed an alternative outlet. I brought the world to my home and was enlivened by it.





There are so many reasons I am grateful to 2020. While I also experienced it's darker side of loss, disappointment, isolation and anxiety, I couldn't have had the many experiences I did had life not slowed down and had I not been forced to be confined and unable to venture out as I had become so accustomed to prior to the pandemic. I also wouldn't have had the time to launch this blog. I hope it can be a way to share small ways to shift our perspective to create brighter sparks in our life. My intention is to encourage this shift and remind myself (and my reader) to focus my attention on that which enlivens me even when life is on a different gear.


My posts will appear on the third Thursday each month. Topics will vary, but focus primarily, on art, culture (including literary & culinary), nature and wine and occasionally, I will invite guest writers to help enrich the conversation and add new perspectives. I hope you find enlivenment in these posts and share the way you find joy even when circumstances are challenging.


Thank you for joining me on this journey.



For more information on the organizations listed in this blog, please see links below:


http://www.iccchouston.com/

https://www.localwineschool.com/west-london/

https://www.museumofwalking.org.uk/

https://grackleandgrackle.com/

https://www.airbnb.com/




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