10 Reasons Why I’m Still Single

How can the amazing that is Ms. Hala still be single, you wonder? Peeps, I’ll give you ten reasons why I’m still single!

In the last few years, I’ve decided to date more seriously, keeping an open mind as I’m in a good place in my life now to be in a serious long-term relationship. I haven’t seen much difference in the dating scene be it back home in California or Qatar to be honest. Maybe I’m doing it wrong?

Call me picky. Call me stubborn. I don’t care! I may be ready for a relationship but I’m not settling to just be in a relationship. There has to be a set of realistic standards and if those aren’t met, then it’s simply not meant to be. #SorryNotSorry

In my community at least, relationships need to be taken a little more seriously than just the idea of a relationship. It’s not about one’s status, changing your social media profile picture or having that big fat Arabic wedding. At the end of the day, it’s about two people sharing commonalities, compatibility and love. It’s about two people supporting and carrying each other through life’s good and bad. It’s about two people sharing the rest of their lives together. And I want that or nothing at all. I’m content with staying happily single despite what many in my community have to say.

كلام النّاس لا بيقدّم ولا يأخّر” – جورج وسوف”
“People’s talk makes no difference” -George Wassouf

Still need a reason why I’m still single? I’ll give you ten reasons why I’m still single.

usapassport10. The Blue Passport: Can’t we be seen for more than where our families gave birth to us? This is quite the conundrum for many of us multicultural and multi-lingual children of immigrants. Even as an expat in Qatar, I’ve been asked out by some that flat out told me they were interested in my blue passport, but not a mention of my brown eyes. I have really beautiful brown eyes. #JustSaying

9. Two Birds, One Stone: Speaking of holding the “right passport”, when you want to be with me because they’ll get both the passport and -fill in the blank with a sexist term-, it never has and never will be flattering, period. The worst I’ve heard from many Muslim men? After our first interaction, he can hit two birds with one stone being with me, and I quote, “passport and halal sex.” OMG, I’ll marry you and help you achieve your bird stoning goals. #Sigh

8. No Style, No Class: I prefer my men with some sense of style. Fitted suit, crisp thob or a clean pair of jeans and a shirt. Sadly, that isn’t always the case. Fake tans, globs of hair gel and skinny jeggings that are not cute on a dude, period. And for the love of God, why do dudes wear capri/flooded pants? Those are MY pants dude! #StopIt

7. Too Pretty For Me: Speaking of style, call me shallow but I’m not interested in a guy who is way prettier than me. He can’t have better hair, better shaped eyebrows or a firmer butt than me. I don’t mind if you get a mani/pedi and your hair did but it can’t be better than mine. I want to be the pretty girl in the relationship here. And let’s be real, I can’t be in a relationship where I’ll constantly be jealous of my pretty man, with his amazing hair flicks and that toned ass.

6. Cash Money! Bling Bling!: For whatever reason, people have the impression that I’m oh so rich. Alhamdulillah, I’m financially stable but I’m so far from deemed rich. We haven’t gone on two coffee dates and you’re already asking me to borrow money? Dude, you need to go and reevaluate your life! And men that are rich think that’s how to seduce me? You trippin’ booboo because if that’s all it took, I would’ve been hitched to any of the rich monkeys that have crossed my path a long ass time ago!

5. Not Muslim Enough: I’ll never forget the first time this happened to me. Long story short, weird dude proposed marriage and I refused. He then stated that he was proposing out of the goodness of his heart because I will not go to heaven unless I marry him because I wasn’t Muslim enough. What the hell does that even mean? Ever since I’ve had this statement said to me over the years. Not 100% Muslim when in jeans and hijab. Not 100% Muslim when in mixed groups. Not 100% Muslim when you’re friends with non-Muslim. These dudes think that by faith guilting me, I will succumb to their odd advances? I’d rather be a bad Muslim than with you! #JustGoAway

4. To Be Pro-Choices:  I’m not interested in having children. If it happens, it happens but I have the right as a Muslim, as a woman, as a human being to my own personal preferences. People simply need to learn that they have the right to respectfully dis/agree. Yet men and some of their very involved mamas have had the audacity to tell me, “Oh, you’ll change your mind as you get older.” “How selfish can you be?” “Why would you deprive him of his right to be a father?” Really? Really?

3. Cultural Misunderstanding: “Is that your Egyptian or American talking?” “You’re only saying that because you’re American.” “See it’s because you’re Muslim but in my American culture…” Huh? Why do people think I switch between either of my multi-cultural globetrotting mentality as deemed convenient? Especially in this part of the world, both American and Arabs, expats and locals, have a hard time grasping the idea of being multicultural individual. You must pick one, you can only be one or the other. I’m the best of all worlds, it’s part of being human. I’m not either or. No one is.

2. Closed Palate, Closed Mind, Closed Heart: Speaking of cultural understanding, the world is so grand, how can you not take it in and appreciate it all? How can you not care to see the world? How can you hate on someone simply because they are different than you? How can you eat the same thing every single day and yet hate on other people’s foods? Stop this closed-mindedness, it’s the 21st fucking century! I just can’t deal with those who have tunnel vision and don’t go beyond their bubble.

SoGorgeousSoSillySoOMG1. Because This Is Me: As my bio states, I am simply amazing! Why would I change that? I will not change me. You will not change me. I come as is. So gorgeous, so silly, so OMG! Plain and simple. So either accept it or stop talking and keep walking, booboo! #ByeFelicia

Can you relate peeps? Share your stories in the comments below.

Quote of the Day

​”I want to do with you what spring does with cherry trees” -Pablo Neuruda

image source: Tastemade 

Ciao Italia!

It’s finally here peeps! This is the first of a handful of rants on my amazing trip through Italy last year. I learned so much and want to share as much as I can, from the towns I strolled through to the amazing food I ate along the way. Your thoughts and feedback are highly appreciated! =)

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It’s one thing to read and hear about Italy, it’s another thing entirely to experience it!

In the short time I was blessed to spend in Italy, I was able to discover a great history preserved for thousands of years thanks to it’s proud people and their friends. A country diverse in culture, tasted in it’s cuisine and enjoyed in it’s many stories. I was not just a tourist, I was an admirer finally fulfilling a travel dream I’ve had for years… and I mean YEARS!

As it was our first time in Italy, my friend and I decided to find a group tour to travel with. We came across Gate 1 Travel, a tour company out of the US. This company does multiple tours throughout the world, including right here in the Middle East. I have to say, as this was my first group tour, it was an amazing experience. I meet great people from different parts of the states and felt right at home. I would highly recommend using Gate 1 Travel for your next group tour, especially to a country or region you aren’t familiar with.

Simone Vitti, was our wonderful Italian tour guide who took care of us like we were his visiting friends from out of town. This young man is truly passionate about his country and worked with others in the field that had the same passion when they showed us around their towns. Let me rephrase that, Simone wasn’t our tour guide, he was our Italian professor. He literally gave us a crash course on Italian history, culture, cuisine and language. A few of which I hope I’ll be able to relay in my rants, but sadly, not with Simone’s beautiful accent.

Our 16 day trip started in Como and zigzagged through Italy until we ended in Rome. Below are my thoughts and highlights on some of the places we visited. I’ll go into more details on a few of these towns after I finish sifting through about 5,000 photos and videos from my portable Nikon and lifesaver of a Nexus 6P phone.

Alrighty then, andiamo!

Como, Lombardy – The main city of Lago de Como (Como Lake) in the state of Lombard, about a 40 minute drive from Milan airport (MXP), is a beautifully cozy town. Walk any which way, there’s plenty of green, mountains and water. If you’d like, you can take a train and cross the northern border to Switzerland or hop the trams to visit near by small towns atop the hills. This town literally felt like it had everything within walking distance. We stayed at Hotel Metropole Suisse, which was small but extremely charming. I didn’t pay extra for a lake view room but I think any room in this hotel has a magnificent view of the lake and the lively town square. Stay for a few days, walk everywhere, take a boat through Lake Como, shop the boutiques, visit the Volt Museum and eat everything! Final Thought: One of my favorite Italian cities, highly recommended for at least a few days.

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Bellagio, Como, Lombardy – Deemed “the pearl of Lake Como”, this small town can be walked all around in about an hour or so but there’s so much to discover within it’s smaller streets. Beautifully built homes, boutique shops, lake views from the hilltops… so much so, a day trip in my opinion was not enough to absorb it all. I wish we were able to check out the Gairdini di Villa Melzi D’Eril (Gardens of Melzi D’Eril’s Villa) which was closed during our day trip. The view from every angle was breathtaking, the hills were not difficult to navigate on foot and the people were very welcoming of the massive tourist crowds. And the street pizza we got for 6 Euros was delicious! Final Thought: A town not to be missed! Highly recommended for at least a weekend stay.

Verona, Veneto – From a far, it’s very much a Roman town with many of it’s marks still visible. Once inside though, it’s a whole different story, especially for those seeking love. Everyone comes to Verona for Casa de Giulia (Juliet’s House). Why? Because Shakespeare – who never visited Italy by the way, let alone Verona – used it as the setting for his fatel romantic tale, Romeo and Juliet. Smart Italians then turned the town into the “city of love” and replicated the house Shakespeare dreamt up for Juliet. Everyone swarms there  to stand in Juliet’s balcony and rub her statue’s breasts for luck in love. This fan of Shakespeare didn’t find it appealing at all, especially with the claustrophobic inducing crowds. Instead, I waited for our group outside and checked out some of the really cute craft shops nearby. The craftsmanship of this city is under hyped and deserves as much attention as Juliet’s stone breasts. Final Thought: OK for a day trip or to attend an event, nothing more.

Venezia, Veneto – I found this city of 118 islands to be quite lovely, but extremely overrated. I’ve never seen such small spaces so crowded in my entire life. We stayed at the Hotel Carlton and Grand Canal which is off the grand canal of central Venice, just breath taking! And we were warned that some activities, like the musical gondola rides along the canal, were straight up tourist traps. We took a boat bus through most of the grand canal in about 40 minutes for 7 Euros. Head to Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square) and be taken back to the fascinating history the square encompasses. Go to the smaller islands like Murano where many world class glass factories reside. Final Thought: Overhyped romanticism, OK for a weekend but please avoid Venice in the summer.

Firenze, Tuscana – After my time in Venice, I was worried this otherwise overhyped city of Florence would disappoint me. I was wrong! As a huge fan of art and museums, this city truly captured my heart. Of course we couldn’t be in Florence, even for just a day, without standing in front of the magnificent marble statue of David. The work, the details and the history behind Michelangelo’s original intention is awe inspiring. The museum and art academy was a breath of fresh air, I just wish we had more time to spend to see the other exhibitions of both historical and modern artists. Since we love shopping, we headed to the many leather and silver factory shops lined up all over town. Be careful during tourist season though, their prices are ridiculously “discounted”. Final Thought: An art lover’s dream city! Definitely try to spend a few days here, one day was simply not enough.

Siena, Tuscana: This was an additional tour that I decided to go on and I’m glad I did. A medival town holding on tight to traditions and a great historical significance, especially to the Catholic faith. A young lady by the name of Catherine dedicated her life to serving the people and the church. She’s the reason behind the return of the Vatican state to Italy from France. Dying at the young age of 33 due to her continued “fasting”, she was later deemed a Saint, with parts of her showcased at the Basilica di San Domenico (aka Catherine’s Basilica). Final Thought: A great day trip! The summer heat can be brutal as this is a walking city, not much aside from bikes roam through this town’s many alleys and small hilly streets.

Sorrento, Napoli, Campania – This is a small town with larger than life vibes. It was used as our “pit stop” for a few days while we visited other nearby towns. We stayed at the lovely Grand Hotel Vesuvio atop a hill overlooking the coast. The lively town square at the bottom of the hill was just a hotel shuttle ride away. I found Sorrento to be a perfect town to take in the sights, eat great food and dance the night away. I highly recommend dining at L’Antica Trattoria just a few feet from the town’s main square. I had the honor of meeting the chef after his staff took note of my excessive food photography and questions. Final Thought: This town is very Naples central, highly recommended to check out during a good few days stay in Naples.

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Capri & Costiera Amalfitana, Campania: The only thing I disliked about Capri Island is that I went in the summer, the crowds were brutal. Everything else, even the drive on the Amalfi Coast in an oversized charter bus driving on the edge of the earth, was wonderful. Take in the coasts and get on a boat tour around the island and inside the caves, AMAZING! Did I mention shopping in the local shops? Great finds, got most of my gifts from these lovely shops for decent prices. And for the citrus lovers, this is the heart of limoncello, so drink up! Final Thought: Do not visit in the summer and do not spend less than two days in what I believe to be the most beautiful coast and island of Italy!

Pompeii, Napoli, Campania: Fans of history will appreciate this historic and practically abandoned archeological town. Practically frozen in time by the volcanic ash of Mount Vesuvius that erupted over 2,000 years ago. Some sights can be fascinating while others can be quite disturbing. It bothers me a bit that the town is more famous for it’s historical brothels than it’s preserved roads, sculptures and architecture. The people of Pompeii were smart and had they lived on, I can only imagine what they would have contributed to our modern day society. Final Thought: A great day trip! Please be sure to wear comfortable shoes and clothing. I’m embarrassed to say I ripped my pants climbing up one of the massive steps. Yikes!

Roma, Lazio: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” And so I attempted to do just that in the few days I was there. We walked underneath the city to discover it’s hidden treasures after spending a morning walking through the coliseum’s disturbing past.  The Egyptian part of me lost count of the many artifacts the Roman Empire just “happened to find in their ships” when they returned home. The Spanish Steps aren’t Spanish but the embassy across the square is. I’d seen enough churches during my Italy trip but the Major Mary Church was spiritually beautiful, it’s believed to house a piece of the wooden cross Prophet Jesus (pbuh) was crucified on. Threw in a few coins in the Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain) for good luck and headed to the Tiber River’s summer festivities for international cuisines, music and games. Rome is truly a city like no other! Final Thought: This city is alive and kicking, not a dull moment. Do all the tours you can, there’s so much to do and discover in this city!

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Until next time, ciao bello mios!

Quote of the Day

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Not everything that is faced can be changed but nothing can be changed until it is faced. -James Baldwin

Quote of the Day

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via picrevise.com

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” -Emma Lazarus, as engraved on the Statue of Liberty

Quote of the Day

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“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends. – Martin Luther King Jr.

Goals vs Resolutions

Happy 2017 peeps! May this be the most successful, rewarding, joyous and blessed year yet Insha’Allah!

As I went through my previous rants of years past, I found one I had written over eight years ago for my career development blog on goal planning. Now as you’ve set resolutions for 2017, let me ask you, when was the last time you actually went passed February with any of your resolutions still in mind?

That got me thinking about how we go about our new year’s resolutions. Can my idea of goal planning from eight years ago be applied today? I took a hard look at it and realized that yes it can. With that in mind, here’s a fresh take on how to apply an old habit for new year’s, and quite frankly, all year round.

Goals vs Resolutions
Goal Planning for 2017
by Ms. Hala

First week of January and I’m sure you’ve got your new years resolution set. Maybe even started working on it? What’s your new years resolution this year? Is it to lose that holiday weight? To graduate college? To save enough money? To travel the world? That all sounds good but is it tangible enough to actually be accomplished?

Let’s start by understanding the word “resolution”.

resolution
– a firm decision to do or not to do something.
– the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter.

A quick Google search of the definition shows us that it means to solve a problem, making a decision towards an action. Not sure if that’s the route you were thinking of when you were coming up with what you’d like to accomplish this year.

May I suggest using the word “goal” instead?

goal
-the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.

Goal is defined by understanding your ambition, the effort you are willing to take, the end result you actually want.

Your new year’s resolution is to fix your weight problem. Your new year’s goal is to lose that extra 15 pounds by working out and changing your eating habits. Do you see the difference?

If it’s a problem, then it’s a resolution but if it’s an ambition, then it’s a goal. Either way, let’s plan it out together. I’ll use one of my own personal goals as an example. However, this method applies for almost anything you have in mind.

I didn’t read as many books as I should in the last two years and that to me is a problem. My new year’s resolution is to read more books. Now let’s take that and start planning my tangible goal, focusing on the ambition here. To help me break it down to a tangible goal, I’ll ask myself a handful of questions:

How many books do I want to read? -One each month.
What genre of books do I want to read? -Both fiction and nonfiction.
Do I have all desired books to read on hand? -No
Can I read around my busy work schedule? -Yes
Where can I find the best books in this part of the world? -Online if not at the local bookshop.
Do I want to read just English language books? -No

You’d be surprised how much it can expand out and sometimes become a bit complex. The destination is only as great as the journey.

Take out a sheet of blank paper (yes paper, or at least type it out and print it out) to create your goal plan. On top, put your tangible 2017 goal. Underneath that, write your monthly goals towards the main goal of the year. Then again, break down your weekly goals for each month.

This break down is to help you see how you are progressing and what you still need to complete towards your goal. You can even break it down further to daily tasks to achieve the weekly goals towards the main goal. What do I need to do every day to achieve my goal? I need to do some research on the books I have in mind. Go to the local book store. Purchase books online, either physical or digital. Plan out my reading schedule for the week.

Here’s what mine looks like thus far which includes the book I started reading last year.
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Put that sheet of paper somewhere visible to you every day. The constant reminder will help you stay on top of your goal plans. Note your daily tasks in your calendar so that you can be reminded of it. Mark off what you’ve completed so you’re motivated to keep going. Missed a task? It’s OK, reschedule it. Didn’t reach your goal for the week? That’s fine, add it on to the rest of the month. Life happens and  you will need to reevaluate those small tasks and weekly goals for feasibility from time to time. These little changes are OK, don’t be bummed out about it. If anything, it’ll help you regain your focus and keep you motivated towards the end goal.

What does Ms. Hala do?

With the sheet of paper up on my fridge, I’m reminded of what my ambition is for the year. My weekly goals and daily tasks are listed in my Google calendar where I’ll get push notifications straight to both my phone and tablet. I even keep a private journal of my main goal for the year and months, note down any changes and progress.

When I started my MBA many years ago, by goal was to graduate by 2010. I had the wallpaper on my phone of my college graduation picture. This motivated me every time I looked at my phone, especially on those frustrating days working on an assignment, of what I was working towards.

What’s your goal for 2017? What’s it going to take for you to achieve it? Will you be working on it past February?

Good luck peeps!